Leo Tolstoy Yasnaya Polyana logo

Leo Tolstoy Yasnaya Polyana

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Yasnaya Polyana (Russian: ?????? ???????, literally: "Bright Glade") was the home of the writer Leo Tolstoy, where he was born, wrote War and Peace and Anna Karenina, and is buried. Tolstoy called Yasnaya Polyana his "inaccessible literary stronghold". It is located 12 kilometres (7.5 mi) southwest of Tula, Russia and 200 kilometers (120 mi) from Moscow.In June 1921, the estate was nationalized and formally became his memorial museum. It was at first run by Alexandra Tolstaya, the writer’s daughter. The current director of the museum is Vladimir Tolstoy, also one of Tolstoy’s descendants. The museum contains Tolstoy’s personal effects and movables, as well as his library of 22,000 volumes. The estate-museum contains the writer’s mansion, the school he founded for peasant children and a park where Tolstoy’s unadorned grave is found.The estate of Yasnaya Polyana was originally owned by the Kartsev family. At the end of the 18th century it was purchased by Prince Nikolai Volkonskiy, the grandfather of the writer, who created a formal French garden and an English landscape garden, as well as long alleys of birch and oak trees.The house passed from Nikolai Volkonskiy to his only daughter, Maria Nikolayevna, the mother of Leo Tolstoy. Her husband, Nikolai Ilyich Tolstoy, a veteran of the war against Napoleon in 1812, built a 32-room house and an ensemble of work buildings, and enlarged the park.Leo Tolstoy was born on September 9, 1828 in a house (since demolished) at Yasnaya Polyana. His parents died when he was very young, and he was raised there by relatives. In 1856, after he finished his military service, he moved into a house, which had been one wing of the previous mansion, and brought his wife there in 1862.At the time Tolstoy lived there, the Yasnaya Polyana estate had about four thousand acres (16 km²), on a gently sloping hillside with dense original forest (The Forest of the Old Order) at the upper end, and a series of four ponds at different levels. There were four clusters of peasant houses, with about 350 peasants living and working on the estate.Tolstoy wrote War and Peace at Yasnaya Polyana between 1862 and 1869, and wrote Anna Karenina there between 1873 and 1877. He wrote the novels in his study by hand in very small handwriting, with many additions and deletions and notes, and gave the draft to his wife, who made a clean copy at night, which Tolstoy then rewrote the next day. Each chapter went through five or six drafts, and she recopied War and Peace seven times before it was finished. All the drafts were saved by his wife and are now in the Rumyantsev Museum in Moscow.Tolstoy’s thirteen children, of whom four died in childhood, were all born at Yasnaya Polyana. They were born on the same leather couch where Tolstoy himself was born, which was kept in his study next to his writing desk, and is still there todayWhen he was living and working at Yasnaya Polyana, Tolstoy awakened at 7:00 a.m., did physical exercises, and walked in the park, before starting his writing. During the harvest season he often worked in the fields with the peasants, both for physical exercise and to make his writing about peasant life more realistic. He also visited the school for peasant children which he had created in one building, where he told stories to the children.Tolstoy entertained almost all the important Russian cultural and artistic figures of his time at Yasnaya Poloyana; his guests included Anton Chekhov, Turgenev, Maxim Gorky, the painters Valentin Serov, and Ilya Repin, and many others.In 1911 Tolstoy’s widow Sofia Alexandrovna applied to Czar Nicholas II to have Yasnaya Polyana made into a state museum. The Czar refused, but did grant a pension to the family which allowed the house and estate to be preserved as they were.

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