The State Memorial and Natural Preserve "Museum-estate of Leo Tolstoy "Yasnaya Polyana"
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Online Project: Leo Tolstoy‘s Younger Children


Since last September, the Yasnaya Polyana Museum has launched six special online projects dedicated to various aspects of Leo Tosltoy‘s life and the history of Yasnaya Polyana. Thanks to our readers feedback, we realized there are still a great many topics that would be of interest to them. One of those topic is the lives of Leo Tolstoy‘s children.

We divided our large project about the author‘s children into two parts. A week ago, the first part, Leo Tolstoy‘s Elder Children, was published. Now you can learn more about the lives of his younger children (link to a Russian-language web site).

Leo and Sophia Tolstoy lived together for 48 years; 13 children were born into the family. Age difference between the elder and younger ones was about 20 years. And during those years, Leo Tolstoy‘s views changed considerably.

One of the main changes concerned the issue of the children‘s upbringing and education. Ilya, the third child in the family, wrote about his childhood: „It‘s understandable that, having been brought up within the traditions of old aristocracy, my father wanted to give real aristocratic education to his children. They shoud be provided with the knowledge of as many languages as possible and the very best manners, and should be saved, as far as possible, from any outside influence. Modern schools are no good at all, so children should be taught at home, and prepared for the university at home as well.“  

It was quite different with the younger children. Tolstoy preferd to take them for a walk and just talk to them; he taught them to be independent and almost never touched upon any issues related to education – their mother dealt with that. “My mother believed the children should be educated. For that purpose, we lived in Moscow. My father thought that the children should not be made to study, but brought up in a simple life full of work. As long as children themselves would want to acquire knowledge, they could always do it,” recalled Alexandra, the youngest daughter.

Such a huge difference in the approches to the children‘s education resulted in the fact that the younger children grew up quite unlike their elder brothers and sisters. You can read about the lives of Andrei, Mikhail, Alexandra, and Ivan Tolstoy, and about the way Leo Tolstoy ideas influenced them in the second part of our project:

Photographs from the collection of the Yasnaya Polyana Museum are used in the project.

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