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Sofya and Leo Tolstoy Marriage Profile


Public domain per The Tolstoy Society and the Tolstoy Studies Journal. Photo by S.A. Tolstaia.

Leo Tolstoy and Sofya Tolstoy at Iasnaia Poliana, 1910. This is reportedly the last photograph of the couple together.

Public domain per The Tolstoy Society and the Tolstoy Studies Journal. Photo by S.A. Tolstaia.
The turbulent marriage of Sofya and Leo Tolstoy weathered differences in their values and goals, a 16-year difference in their ages, differences in their personalities, and differences in how to parent their many children. Leo and Sofya both made major mistakes in how they handled their conflict over his manuscripts and diaries. Two mistakes were they involved other people in their dispute and they were not honest with one another.

Tolstoy wrote that their problems began in the 17th year of their marriage, but others believe that their marriage problems began right away.

Tolstoy in 1894: "It began that time fourteen years ago, when the string snapped and I became aware of my loneliness."

William Shirer: "In truth, their diaries show, it began at the very outset of their marriage."
Source: William L. Shirer. Love and Hatred: The Troubled Marriage of Leo & Sonja Tolstoy. 1994. pg. 25.


Leo Tolstoy aka Count Lev Nikolayevich Tolstoi: September 9, 1828 in Yasnaya Polyana, Tula Province, SE Russia.

Sofya Andreyevna Bers aka Sonya Andreyevna Behrs, Sophia Andreyevna Behrs: August 22, 1844.


Leo Tolstoy: On November 20, 1910, Leo Tolstoy died of heart failure and pneumonia at the Astapovo railroad station in Russia at the age of 82. He is buried in Zakaz forest near his birthplace.
Sofya: "The light of the world is out."
Source: "Peasants Kneel at Tolstoy's Bier." The New York Times. 11/21/1910.

Sofya Tolstoy: Nine years after the death of Leo, Sofya died on November 4, 1919. Their children decided to not bury her near Leo.

Leo and Sofya's Courtship

Wedding Date:

Sofya, 18, and Leo, 34, were married on September 23, 1862. They did not have a honeymoon.

Issues in the Tolstoy Marriage

The Tolstoy's 13 Children


Leo and Sofya spent many years on his family's estate at Yasnaya Polyana. They also spent 19 winters in Moscow.


Leo Tolstoy: Author, dramatist, educational reformer, pacifist, bootmaker, mystic, moralist, philosopher, officer in army.

Sonya Tolstoy: Leo's secretary and literary assistant. She copied and corrected his manuscripts.

Quotes About Marriage and About the Marriage of Sofya and Leo Tolstoy

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