In this image of the famous Russian writer, we see Dostoevsky as he appeared, circa 1847, when he was about 26 years old. Image online via Dartmouth College.


Who was Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoevsky - the famous nineteenth-century Russian writer (the link is his signature) whose views about the human condition still resonate with twenty-first-century readers? Most people recognize his name or may have read one of his acclaimed books:

But what was Dostoevsky like? Where did he live? Whom did he marry? What were his eccentricities?

His father, Mikhail Andreyevich, was the chief medical doctor at Moscow’s Hospital for the Poor when his second son, Fyodor, was born there on October 30, 1821. Maria Fyodorovna was a gentle woman whose seven children adored her.

A word about the Russian “middle” name may be helpful here. It is called a "patronymic." A boy’s patronymic often ends in “evich” or “ovich” which means “son of.” A girl’s patronymic usually ends in “evna” or “ovna” which means “daughter of.” Mikhail Andreyevich is thus translated “Michael, son of Andre,” and Maria Fyodorovna means “Maria, daughter of Theodore (the English equivalent of Fyodor”).

By 1831, an apartment at the Hospital for the Poor was no longer suitable for the growing family. In what would prove to be a disastrous purchase, Dr. Dostoevsky bought two small villages about 95 miles north of Moscow.

The family’s summer cottage (called a dacha in Russian) at Darovoye (one of the two villages) became a place of joy for the children. Later, in his writings, Dostoevsky returned to the site of his childhood memories and recalled how much his parents had loved him.

Growing boys need proper schooling and, with the untimely death of their mother (from tuberculosis), Dr. Dostoevsky (in May of 1837) traveled with his two older sons (Mikhail and Fyodor) to St. Petersburg, then Russia’s capital. The brothers were enrolled in the Military Engineering College.

Thereafter, the future writer (who became a Lieutenant after graduation) was always identified with the beautiful city on the Neva River and not with Moscow, the place of his birth.

Let’s take a virtual visit to St. Petersburg. What was it like in the nineteenth century? What is it like now?

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Author: Carole D. Bos, J.D. 5190stories and lessons created

Original Release: Jul 01, 2006

Updated Last Revision: Jun 19, 2019

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"WHO WAS DOSTOEVSKY?" AwesomeStories.com. Jul 01, 2006. Feb 23, 2020.
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