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Professor David Herman

Tolstoy Works Timeline


What follows is a timeline of Tolstoy's major writings. Interwoven within the timeline are major events in Tolstoy's own life and Russian history to give you some sense of the time and events Tolstoy lived amidst.



1851: Tolstoy Begins Writing


Tolstoy begins writing in the Cuacasus, with his brother Nikolai.

1852: Childhood    
1853: The Raid   The Crimean War: Tsar Nicholas I declares war on the Ottoman Empire, sending troops to the Danube Principalities.
1854: Boyhood    
1855: Sevastopol Sketches   Leo loses considerable amounts of money to gambling debts. Tolstoy's brother, Dmitry, dies of Tuberculosis in January 1856. In addition, Tolstoy attempts to free the serfs on his property. The serfs refuse the offer, contending that Leo is trying to trick them. The Russians are defeated at Sevastopol by French, British and Turkish troops.
1857: Youth   Tolstoy travels to Europe and in Paris resumes his friendship with Ivan Turgenev. In addition, at this time Leo's sister, Marya leaves her husband due to infidelity.
1859: Family Happiness   Tolstoy establishes a school in his home to educate children of serfs.
    Tolstoy marries his wife, Sonya Behrs. Before wedding, Leo asks Sonya to read his personal diary. The reading of each other's diaries leads to jealousy on both sides of the relationship. The Emancipation of the Serfs occurs in 1861.
1863: The Cossacks    Their first child, Sergey is born. Their daughter, Tanya, is born the next fall.
1865: The Year 1805    
    Ilya, Tolstoy's second son is born in 1866.
1867: War and Peace (part 1)    
1869: War and Peace (part 2)   Tolstoy's fourth child, Leo, is born. Tired from working on War and Peace, Tolstoy falls into a psychological crisis, suffering from despair and terror.
1870   Leo begins to learn Ancient Greek and work in the fields with the peasants.
1871   Marya, Tolstoy's fifth child is born. In the spring, Tolstoy sinks into depression. He journeys to the steppes of Samara and purchases 6,700 acres of land there to raise horses. He will return there every summer for the following seven years.
    Petya, Tolstoy's sixth child is born.
1873: Anna Karenina (begins)    
    Nicholas, Tolstoy's seventh child is born. Aunt Toinette, the woman who raised Tolstoy as a mother would, after the death of his own mother, from the age of 2 dies.
1875: Anna Karenina (part 1)   Young child Nicholas dies a year after his birth. He was sick from fluid in the brain. Sonya gives premature birth to their eighth child who dies shortly after birth.
    Andrey, the couple's ninth child is born.
1878: Anna Karenina (complete)   Tolstoy struggles with thoughts of suicide after turning 50.

1880: Criticism of Dogmatic Theology

    Alexis, Tolstoy's tenth child, is born in Moscow while Tolstoy himself is in Samara. Fyodor Dostoevsky dies in 1881 at the age of 59.
1882: Contributes to the Moscow Census    
    Tolstoy begins to gather disciples who follow his ideological positions. One of these disciples is Vladimir Chertkov, a wealthy young army officer from Saint Petersburg.


          The Gospels    
1884: What I Believe   Tolstoy takes up shoe-making. He also begins studying Chinese philosophy. Alexandra, another Tolstoy child, is born.
1886: The Death of Ivan Ilych   Alexis becomes ill and dies at the age of 4.
    Tolstoy hears Beethoven's Kreutzer Sonata for a second time and is inspired to create a new work. Tolstoy begins preaching abstinence. He publicly preaches his views but does not practice them. Ivan, the couple's last child, is born in 1888.
1890: The Kreutzer Sonata    
          On Life
    Tolstoy renounces his possessions, giving away all his property. Sonya and their sons are not amused, objecting to the act. Tolstoy finally agrees to leave everything to the family. Famine strikes Russia in 1892.
1893: The Kingdom   Famine persists over Russia and the Tolstoys move to the provinces to work. A propaganda effort aiming to paint Leo as a dangerous revolutionary is crafted by the Russian government.
1895: The Power of Darkness   Tolstoy's child Ivan dies of scarlet fever. Leo begins to settle down and drafts a will.
1897: What Is Art?   Sonya becomes enamored with a musician. It's a platonic relationship but Leo objects to it. Following a wave of Russian immigration to Palestine, Herzl launches the Zionist movement.
1899: Resurrection   Following the publication of Resurrection, the church exiles Tolstoy. Sigmund Freud published The Interpretation of Dreams in 1900.



For more information on Tolstoy's biography, see the biography page from the menu page.