Leo Tolstoy Tolstoy was born at Yasnaya Polyana, the family estate situated in the region of Tula, Russia. He was the fourth of five children in his family. His parents died when he was young, so he was brought up by relatives. Tolstoy studied law and Oriental languages at Kazan University in 1844 until he eventually left the University. Teachers described him as "both unable and unwilling to learn." He returned in the middle of his studies to Yasnaya Polyana and spent much of his time in Moscow and St. Petersburg. After contracting heavy gambling debts, Tolstoy accompanied his elder brother to the Caucasus in 1851 and joined the Russian Army. Tolstoy began writing literature around this time. In 1862 he married Sofia Andreevna Bers, who was 16 years his junior, and together they had thirteen children.
The marriage with Sofia Bers was marked from the outset by Tolstoy on the eve of their marriage giving his diaries to his fiancĂ©e. These detailed Tolstoy's sexual relations with his serfs. Despite so, their early marriage life was comparatively blissful and idyllic and allowed Tolstoy much freedom to compose the literary masterpieces War and Peace and Anna Karenina. His late marriage life has been described by A.N.Wilson as one of the unhappiest in literary history. His relationship with his wife deteriorated as his beliefs became increasingly radical.