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Tatyana Sukhotina-Tolstaya

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Subject: Leo Tolstoy
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Tatyana Sukhotina-Tolstaya

Tatyana Sukhotina-Tolstaya
Portrait by Ilya Repin, 1893.
Born (1864-10-04)4 October 1864
Died 21 September 1950(1950-09-21) (aged 85)
Rome, Italy
Spouse(s) Mikhail Sergeevich Sukhotin
Children Tatyana Sukhotina
Parents Leo Tolstoy

Countess Tatyana Lvovna Sukhotina-Tolstaya (or Tatiana Sukhotin-Tolstoy; Russian: Графиня Татья́на Льво́вна Сухо́тина-Толста́я, born Tatyana Lvovna Tolstaya (October 4, 1864 – September 21, 1950), was the oldest daughter of the Russian writer Leo Tolstoy.

Tatyana (known in her family as Tanya) grew up close to both her mother and father. She early demonstrated a love of painting, and in 1881 she entered the Moscow School of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture, where her teachers were Vasily Perov, Illarion Pryanishnikov, and Leonid Pasternak; she also studied with Nikolai Ge.

Devoted to her father and his ideals, she had rejected a number of suitors, but in 1897 she fell seriously in love with Mikhail Sergeevich Sukhotin, who was in his fifties and married, with six children.
Tanya carried on a kind of platonic romance with him, met him secretly, suffered from the falseness of the situation but could not bring herself to break it off. "I am ashamed when I think of Sukhotin's wife and children," she wrote, "although he assured me that I am depriving them of nothing and although I know his wife stopped loving him long ago. And also, "Papa is the great rival of all lovers and none has been able to vanquish him yet. But this love of mine is competing more strongly than any other has done so far."[1]
Sukhotin's wife died later that year, and on October 9, Tanya announced her desire to marry Sukhotin to her father, who responded with a fiercely uncompromising rejection ("But why a pure girl should want to get mixed up in such a business is beyond me"). Tanya gave in for the time being, but finally insisted, and on November 14, 1899 the couple were married, with Tolstoy sobbing as he led his daughter to the church. They lived on Sukhotin's estate, Kochety ("The Roosters," in Tula guberniya, about 30 km (19 mi) east of Orel), and on November 19, 1905 she gave birth to her only child, a daughter also called Tatyana (Tanya).

From 1914 to 1921 she lived in Yasnaya Polyana, where from 1917 to 1923 she was guardian of the museum; from 1923 to 1925 she was director of the Tolstoy Museum in Moscow. In 1925, together with her daughter, she emigrated to Paris, where she was hostess to Bunin, Chaliapin, Stravinsky, Alexandre Benois, and other members of the Russian exile community. From Paris she moved to Italy, where she spent her final years.

In her diary (Dec. 13, 1932) she wrote: "I have lived an incredibly and undeservedly happy and interesting life. And successful."

Her diary (maintained from October 1878 until 1932) was published in English (The Tolstoy Home: Diaries of Tatiana Sukhotin-Tolstoy, tr. Alec Brown, London: Harvill Press; New York: Columbia University Press, 1951) and French (Tatiana Tolstoi, Journal, tr. André Maurois, Paris: Plon, 1953), but in Russian (aside from excerpts in Novy Mir in 1973) not until Т. Л. Сухотина-Толстая, Воспоминания [Memoirs], Moscow: Khudozhestvennaya literatura, 1976.


  1. ^ Henri Troyat, Tolstoy, New York: Doubleday, 1967, p. 551

External links

  • Short biography (in Russian)
  • Dnevnik (Diary, in Russian)
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