September 9 – Leo Tolstoy

“The two most powerful warriors are patience and time.”

Leo Tolstoy

Count Lev Nikolayevich Tolstoy was born September 9th, 1828 at his family’s estate near Tula, Russia. His parents, who were of noble lineage, died while Tolstoy was young, and he was brought up by relatives. He received an extensive education throughout his childhood, but at university he proved an unwilling student and soon left.

He then began writing his first novel, Childhood, a fictitious account of his own life, which was published in 1852. It was followed by two subsequent works, Boyhood, and Youth.

After running up gambling debts, Tolstoy joined the army. His experience in the army and in two trips around Europe in the late 1850s and early 1860s transformed him from a dissolute and privileged society author, to a non-violent and spiritual anarchist who would later inspire leaders such as Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. 

On September 23, 1862 he married Sofya Andreevna Behrs, the daughter of a court physician who was sixteen years his junior They had 13 children, 8 of whom survived childhood. She worked as his secretary, editor and financial manager, copying and hand-writing what would come to be know as his epic works, namely War and Peace (1969) and Anna Karenina (1878). 

After Anna Karenina Tolstoy went through a spiritual awakening, and concentrated on Christian themes, such as What I Believe and The Kingdom of God Is Within You.

Leo Tolstoy is considered one of the greatest writers of all time, and War and Peace is regarded by many as the greatest novel ever written. Tolstoy was nominated for the Novel Prize in Literature every year from 1902 to 1906, and for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1901, 1902 and 1909. 

In 1910 at the age of 82 Tolstoy left his comfortable estate and his wife Sofya, who had become outspoken and critical of his beliefs. He died of pneumonia at a small remote train station in Astapovo, Russia. 

Lesson from Tolstoy

War and Peace took Tolstoy six years to complete. He started publishing it as a serial in a Russian periodical, but his wife pushed him to publish the novel in volumes. Between 1867 and 1869 six volumes, a total of 1,200 pages that were copied by hand by Sofya, were published. Patience and time (and literary genius) were all it took.

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