Fyodor Dostoyevsky, a literary giant, was born in 1821 in Moscow, Russia, into a middle-class family. Born into a very religious household, to hard-working parents, Dostoyevsky pursued his education in engineering, and came out third in the final examination of the Petersburg School of Engineering.
Dostoyevsky’s education had begun early, as his parents spent a lot of time reading to their children, usually from books of weight and importance. His academic career led into his literary one, as he had started work on his first novel, ‘Poor Folks’,while still attending school. Its publication in 1846 met with widespread critical and public acclaim. His career, however, suffered a sizable interruption when he spent ten years in labor camps and Siberian exile as a political prisoner.
Dostoevsky was arrested and imprisoned in 1849 for involvement in revolutionary activities against Tsar Nicholas I. He was sentenced to death for anti-government activities linked to a radical intellectual group, the Petrashevsky Circle; however, after a mock execution in which he faced a staged firing squad, Dostoevsky’s sentence was commuted to some years of exile performing hard labor at a katorga prison camp in Siberia. He was released from prison in 1854, and was required to serve in the Siberian Regiment. Dostoevsky spent the following five years as a corporal (and latterly lieutenant) in the Regiment’s Seventh Line Battalion stationed at the fortress of Semipalatinsk in Kazakhstan.
His life was not only of strife. In 1855 he met and fell in love with Maria Dmitrievna Isaev, who would later become his wife. Isaev, though unhappily, was married to an abusive alcoholic. Dostoyevsky and Isaev’s love affair lasted through many trials, and they were eventually married in February of 1857, while Dostoyevsky was still in exile. Their life together lasted until April 15, 1864 when Maria lost her battle with consumption, which she had been suffering from for years. Dostoyevsky wold marry again.
His second wife was Anna Grigoryevna Snitkina, whom he met as the stenographer he had hired to speed up the process of completing a novel which he was contracted to deliver on a deadline. Despite their age difference (she was twenty, he was forty four) they fell in love and were marriedin in February of 1867.
In April, 1867, the Dostoevskys left Russia for Europe. The move was financed by Anna’s financial savvy, and by her using the money from her dowery and by pawning everything she owned. They would stay in Europe for four years instead of the few months that was originally planned. They finally returned to Russia in the spring of 1871, after suffering the loss of an infant daughter, the birth of a second one (Lyubov), and before the birth of their second child, Fyodor.
By the 1870s, Dostoevsky had become a famous writer. Oddly, his fame was balanced by a quiet domestic life. Dostoevsky was a tender and tranquil husband and a playful father, fond of reading to his children. Even his happy years were not free of tribulations.
Weakened by age, it was increasingly more difficult for him to recover from his bouts of epilepsy. He died on January 2 at 11:38 p.m.
- Gocsik, Karen “Biography” April 2003
- Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia. (2004, December 22). Fyodor Dostoevsky Biographical Sketch. Retrieve on December 28, 2004, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fyodor_Dostoevsky