Count Lev Nikolayevich Tolstoy (1828 - 1910), usually referred to in English as Leo Tolstoy, was a Russian novelist today regarded as one of the greatest of all time.
He is best known for War and Peace (1869) and Anna Karenina (1877). He first achieved literary acclaim in his 20s with his semi-autobiographical trilogy, Childhood, Boyhood, and Youth (1852-1856), and Sevastopol Sketches (1855), based upon his experiences in the Crimean War. Tolstoy's fiction includes dozens of short stories and several novellas such as The Death of Ivan Ilyich, Family Happiness, and Hadji Murad. He also wrote plays and numerous philosophical essays.
In the 1870s Tolstoy experienced a profound moral crisis, followed by what he regarded as an equally profound spiritual awakening. His literal interpretation of the ethical teachings of Jesus, centering on the Sermon on the Mount, caused him to become a fervent Christian anarchist and pacifist. His new-found asceticism and determination to renounce his considerable wealth tipped his marriage into bitter turmoil, which continued right up to his death at the age of 82 in the waiting room of an, until then, obscure Russian railway station.
Tolstoy's ideas on nonviolent resistance, expressed in such works as The Kingdom of God Is Within You, were to have a profound impact on such pivotal 20th-century figures as Mohandas Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr., and James Bevel.