Anna Dostoevskaya: the Heart and Soul of Russia’s Greatest Author

At the beginning of the twentieth century, recalling his meeting with Dostoevsky’s widow Anna, the Russian actor Leonid Leonidov (he played Dmitri Karamazov in the production of The Brothers Karamazov in 1910 at the Moscow Art Theater) wrote the following:

“I saw and heard ‘something’, something unlike anything else. But through that ‘something,’ through this ten-minute meeting, through his widow, I felt Dostoevsky… A hundred books about Dostoevsky could never have given me as much as this meeting!”

Dostoevsky’s wife, Anna Grigorievna (1846 1918) was such an amazing person with such an enormous heart. Read great article To be the wife of Fyodor Dostoevskyabout Anna Grigorievna Dostoevskaya.

Anna was 34 years when her husband died. She never remarried. After the death of her husband she collected his manuscripts, letters, documents and photographs. She transferred more than 1000 items to the State Historical Museum of Russia for the creation of a special museum dedicated to her husband.

She wrote two biographical books about Fyodor Dostoevsky: “Anna Dostoevskaya’s Diary” in 1867, which was published in 1923 after her death, and “Memoirs of Anna Dostoevskaya” (also known as Reminiscence of Anna Dostoevskaya), published in 1925.

In the last year of her life, Anna was already seriously ill and experienced starvation in a war-torn Crimea.  She died in Yalta in 1918 and was buried there. In 1968 her ashes were reburied in Alexander Nevsky Monastery in St. Petersburg, next to her husband.

Anna said once before her death:

“ … I gave myself to Fyodor Mikhailovich when I was 20 years old. Now I’m over 70, and I still belong only to him in every thought, in every action”.

“Many Russian writers would feel better if they had wives like Dostoevsky had,” said Leo Tolstoy after meeting with Anna. How did she manage to do it? … If Anna Grigorievna Dostoevskaya were asked to give the recipe for a happy marriage with a great writer, it could surely be summed up by her following words:

” … You must handle feelings with care, so that they don’t shatter. There is nothing more precious in life than love. One must forgive more — look for the fault within yourself and smooth your own rough edges …”


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