I consider the beauty of books lies not only in the stories contained but also in the stories of their writers and the broader context in which they were written. Taking this approach, I started writing a new type of blog posts: Get to know the writer. These posts will present (famous) authors, focusing not as much on their literary careers but more on their personal lives.

The information will be structured into 3 main sections:

  • Writer’s life in a nutshell – focus on personal events
  • Literary career – most important works published
  • Did-you-knows – interesting bits and facts

The first writer featured in this new series is Fyodor Dostoevsky, a Russian classic widely known for his exploration of the human psychology, with books translated into more than 170 (!) languages.

writers life nutshell readers high tea

Dostoevsky was born on 11th of November 1821 in Moscow, Russia (it’s not a coincidence that this post is published on his birthday 🙂 ). His father was a doctor at a hospital for poor people, so he grew up very close to the reality of the very poor Russians. Unfortunately both his parents died before he turned 18.

Dostoevsky was married twice. His first wife died after 7 years of marriage, and the following year Dostoevsky married his second wife, Anna Snitkina. Initially, he hired Anna as an assistant, and she was believed to help Dostoevsky reach his full writing potential and create his most renown works.

“The cleverest of all, in my opinion, is the man who calls himself a fool at least once a month”

The continuous financial issues made Dostoevsky hurry his works into publication, and he often complained that writing against a deadline was affecting the quality of his works. However, this permanent hurry might have “helped” Dostoevsky write so many beautiful books in quite a short period of time. He died in 1881, at 59 years old.

Portrait of Dostoevsky by Vasily Perov, 1872

literary career readers high tea

Dostoevsky started writing when he was 23 years old. During his literary career he wrote 11 novels, 3 novellas, 17 short stories and many other works. The most known books written by him are:

  • Crime and Punishment (1866) explores criminals’ psychology and it was published in chapters in a Russian magazine as Dostoyevsky was struggling to pay his gambling debts
  • The Idiot (1869) portrays “the wholly beautiful man” as Dostoevsky himself stated – the main character of the book is a good man who tries to live in a society gone wrong
  • The Brothers Karamazov (1880) is a journey through a family tragedy and the various types of morality and faith people can hold. Unfortunately, Dostoevsky died less than four months after its publication.
dostoevsky doodles readers high tea
Dostoevsky used to draw elaborate doodles in his manuscripts

did you know that readers high tea

… Dostoevsky attended the Military Engineering Institute? He was forced by his parents to abandon his academic studies for a military career. Even though Dostoevsky disliked the academy, he continued his studies and obtained the rank of engineer cadet.

… he was addicted very passionate about gambling? Being introduced to gambling after graduating the military academy, this addiction caused his family a lot of financial distress. Dostoevsky was inspired to write a novella inspired by this aspect of his life (“The Gambler“), which was completed under a strict deadline to pay off gambling debts.

…Dostoevsky spent 4 years in prison? In 1847 he joined an anti-government group whose members were later arrested. Dostoevsky was sentenced to 4 years in prison and 4 years of forced service in the army in Siberia, Russia.

dostoevsky 190th birthday readers high tea
Google doodle to celebrate 190 years since Dostoevsky’s birthday

I hope you enjoyed this exploration of Dostoevsky’s life as much as I did! Finding out so many things about his life inspired me to read more of his books (I only read Crime and Punishment until now). Might be a New Year’s Eve resolution 🙂

‘Till next time, happy reading!



Information sources: Britannica.com | NotableBiographies.com | Wikipedia.org

Images: OpenCulture.com | Wikipedia.org | Google.com

One thought on “Get to know the writer: Fyodor Dostoevsky

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s