The State Memorial and Natural Preserve "Museum-estate of Leo Tolstoy "Yasnaya Polyana"
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Pokrovskoye Estate

Pokrovskoye, located on the left bank of the river Shezhed, 10 kilometers to the west of Chern (in the Tula Region) was one of the ancestral estates of the Tolstoy family. In the late 18th century it belonged to Peter Tolstoy, the cousin of Leo Tolstoy’s father. In 1847 Peter’s son, Valerian Tolstoy, married the writer’s sister Maria. From that time on the life of Leo Tolstoy and his family was more closely connected with Pokrovskoye.

Leo Tolstoy visited Pokrovskoye many times, often staying here for several days and working on his works. It was here that he first mentioned the idea of “The Strider”. He saw an “old, skinny, worn out horse” near Spasskoye-Lutovinovo (Turgenev’s estate) and when he came back to Pokrovskoye he wrote in his diary: “I’d like to write the story of a horse”.

Pokrovskoye was just a few kilometers from Spasskoye-Lutivinovo, so Turgenev, who was on very friendly terms with Maria Tolstaya, often visited her here. In his letters Turgenev spoke of her ardently and with passionate delight: “intelligent, kind, and very attractive,” “one of the most attractive women I have ever met. Lovely, clever, I just wouldn’t take my eyes off her. In my old age (I turned 36 on the fourth) I almost fell in love.” Their relationship served to inspire Turgenev’s Faustus – an epistolary  story of a tragic belated love. The author gave his heroine Maria Tolstaya’s turn of mind and some traits of her appearance, and also depicted some aspects of their time spent together at Pokrovskoye.

Maria’s marriage turned out very unhappy. In 1857 she left her husband; in 1865 he died. Not until seven years after his death were did the Tula Regional Court issue a decision “on the rights to inheritance of the estates of the late Count V.P. Tolstoy” by his widow and children. Later Maria’s daughter Elisaveta Obolenskaya lived at Pokrovskoye. Leo Tolstoy’s daughter Maria also spent some time here after she married Elisaveta’s son Nikolai Obolensky.

All that remains of the large estate now is the rather small house where Maria Tolstaya used to live. After the October Revolution it accommodated a local cultural center and later a school. In the 1960s the building was purchased by a local resident and in 2001 – by the Yasnaya Polyana Museum-estate.

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