Lev Nikolaevich Tolstoi. Biografiia. Sostavil P. Biriukov po neizdannym materialam (Vospominaniia i pis’ma L. N. Tolstogo) [Lev Nikolaevich Tolstoy. A Biography. Compiled by P. Biriukov from unpublished materials (Memoirs and letters of L. N. Tolstoy)].

Moscow, Pechkovsky, ‘Posrednik’, 1906[-8].

2 vols., 8vo, pp. 477, [1], vii, [1]; xviii, 483, [1], with a total of forty plates of illustrations; a very good copy in the original blue moiré cloth, lettered gilt (faded), blind embossed portrait of Tolstoy to front covers (nose scraped), spines worn and faded.

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Lev Nikolaevich Tolstoi. Biografiia. Sostavil P. Biriukov po neizdannym materialam (Vospominaniia i pis’ma L. N. Tolstogo) [Lev Nikolaevich Tolstoy. A Biography. Compiled by P. Biriukov from unpublished materials (Memoirs and letters of L. N. Tolstoy)].

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First edition, rare, of the first authorised biography of Tolstoy (then aged 78), by his friend, secretary and disciple Pavel Biriukov (1860-1931), drawing on much unpublished archival material and written in personal consultation with Tolstoy over a period of at least six years.

Biriukov and Tolstoy had together founded the publishing house ‘Posrednik’ in 1884. Later in the decade, Biriukov and Tolstoy’s daughter Masha fell in love, but the timing was unfortunate: Tolstoy was deeply immersed in writing The Kreutzer Sonata (1888), with its insistent message of abstinence, and the romance was quashed. Biriukov does not seem to have harboured any resentment, however: his biography was a labour of love, and was expanded and corrected in further editions of 1911-3 and 1921-3. Biriukov also wrote several redactions of the biography, including one for schools, and was the editor of the first posthumous Collected Works in 1913.

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