His mother died when Leo Tolstoy was 2 years old, and his father when he was only 9. Her revered their memory, and they were the inspiration for his portraits of Princess Mary and Nicholas Rostov in his famous book `War and Peace`. Both his mother and father belonged to the Russian nobility, and Tolstoy always remained highly concious of his aristocratic status, even when towards the end of his life he embraced and taught doctrines of Christian equality and the brotherhood of man.
He served in the army in the Caucausus and the Crimea, where as an artillery officer at the siege of Sevastopol he wrote his first stories and impressions. After leaving the army he travelled an studied educational theories, which deeply interested him.
In 1862 he married Sophie Behrs and for the next fifteen years lived a tranquil and productive life as a country gentleman and author. War and Peace was finished in 1869 and Anna Karenina, another great work of the writer, in 1877. He had thirteen children.
In 1879, after undergoing a severe spiritual crisis, he wrote the autobiographical `A Confession` , and from then on he became a `Tolstoyan`, seeking to propagate his views on religion, morality, non-violence, and renuciation of the flesh. He continued to write, but chiefly in he form of parabels, tracts, and morality plays – written “with the hand of Tolstoy” as a Russian critic has put it – though he also composed a late novel, “Resurrection” an one of his finest long tales, “Hadji Murat”.
Because of his new beliefs and diciples, and his international fame as pacifist and sage, relations with his wife became strained and family life increasingly difficult.
At last in 1910, at the age of 82, he left his home and died of pneumonia at a local railway station.