This lauded author was born Count Lev Nikolaevich Tolstoy in 1828 at Iasnaia Poliana, his family's estate in Russia. At times the toast of the town, he also fell out of favor with the Russian authorities many times during a long career—both for his political views and failed writing endeavors. He was a prolific author who did not set out to be a storyteller. He was full of contradictions: he led a raucous, philandering youth, then devoted himself to family life only to become bitter and disillusioned; he was a count who was fascinated by peasant life; he was a revolutionary in his thinking and later in life he was an activist and reformer; he was best known as Russia's greatest moral authority, and his teachings on civil disobedience have inspired Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr.  and countless others. He was, and still is, an author to be reckoned with.

Downright Debauchery
Although Tolstoy's legacy as an author and philosopher is one of seriousness and morality as a young man, Tolstoy was often far from serious or moral. In his 20s, he dropped out of the university, spent several years in-and-out of the army, during which time he drank heavily, gambling away his family's fortune, womanizing and fraternizing, and eventually gained entrée into the close knit world of the St. Petersburg literary scene, becoming at one point closely associated with Turgenev, the author of Fathers and Sons. In 1858, four years before his first marriage, he had an adulterous affair with a married peasant who bore him an illegitimate child. It wasn't until he was 50 years old that Tolstoy had a great change of faith and heart that solidified his very moral attitude toward the world.

Leo Tolstoy in love


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