- Welcome to St Petersburg Essential Guide -
Welcome to St Petersburg Essential Guide - Your Best Travel Guide to Russia

Fyodor Dostoyevsky
the great russian novelist

The literary works of Fyodor Dostoyevsky explore human psychology in the troubled political, social, and spiritual atmosphere of 19th-century Russia.

Fyodor Dostoyevsky was a successful writer despite living during a time of political and social unrest when government censorship and paranoia were common.

He began writing in his 20s, and his first novel, Poor Folk, was published in 1846 when he was 25. His most famous works include Crime and Punishment (1866), The Idiot (1869), Demons (1872) and The Brothers Karamazov (1880).

His literature legacy consists of 11 novels, three novellas, 17 short novels, and numerous other works. Some literary critics rate him as one of the greatest psychologists in world literature. His novella book Notes from Underground (1864) is considered to be one of the first works of existentialist literature, so a must-read if you have a chance.

And to give you an idea of his worldwide popularity his books have been translated into more than 170 languages and are still being read today by many. Several monuments ad museums are also dedicated to his life and work. Definitely Dostoyevsky was the most authentic Russian influencer of the 900s century and one of the most widely read and highly regarded Russian writers.

His best quote and one of our favorite is "Life is in ourselves and not in the external".

more about fyodor dostoyevsky

Below is a very brief look into the life of the famous Russian writer Fyodor Dostoyevsky.

early years, family, & studies

Born Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoyevsky in Moscow on November 11th, 1821 to Mikhail and Maria, he was one of eight children, only one of whom died in childhood. His father was a physician who eventually held the post of the collegiate assessor, which raised his legal status to that of nobility, making it possible for him to buy land.

As was the case with other noble children, Dostoyevsky was well-educated. He was introduced to literature by his childhood nanny’s readings of heroic sagas, legends, and fairytales. His mother used the Bible to begin teaching him to read and write at the age of four. On a nightly basis, his parents read to him and his siblings from the works of Russian writers, including Pushkin and Derzhavin, as well as other selections of fictional, epic and romantic genres.

At the age of 12, he was sent to a French boarding school, followed by the Chermak boarding school and eventually the Mykolaiv Military Engineering Institute in Saint Petersburg, a free school established by Alexander the Great. Far from being like the character in The Idiot Dostoyevsky was an intellectual, but he was not particularly drawn to science, mathematics or military engineering. He was much more interested in the arts.

a turbulent life on his late twenties

He and a group of other Russian writers were arrested in 1849 and spent months at the Peter and Paul Fortress in Saint Petersburg while an investigation concerning the group’s revolutionary activities were conducted. On December 23, 1849, the group was sentenced to death, taken to the grounds of Semyonov Palace and split into groups of three. They were lined up to be killed by a firing squad. At the last minute, a letter from Tsar Nicholas I arrived and all were spared.

Rather than being executed, Fyodor Dostoyevsky and others in his group were sent to Siberia where they served four years of hard labor. The House of the Dead was published after his release and was based on his experience in prison. The book was a first, in that no previous novel had been published concerning the conditions in Russian prisons, which can only be described as inhumane. 

A condition of his release from prison was that he would serve in the Siberian Army Corps in Semey, which he did. He eventually obtained permission to publish more books and to marry. By this time, he was 36 years old. He married Maria in 1857. She agreed to marry him despite his poor financial situation. Theirs was not the happiest of marriages, although they are said to have loved each other desperately. Maria died in 1864.

last years

Dostoyevsky suffered from epilepsy and as he grew older the seizures came more often.

Because of his poor health, he was granted permission to leave the military and return to Saint Petersburg where he married his second wife Anna. They spent four years on honeymoon, traveling throughout Europe before returning to Russia. They had four children, although their first Sonya died shortly after her birth.

In the following years, Dostoyevsky worked as a journalist, publishing and editing several magazines of his own and later A Writer's Diary, a collection of his writings. The family was a happy one, despite the economic woes that seemed to return to Fyodor again and again throughout his life.

On February 9th, 1881 in the city of Saint Petersburg, Fyodor Dostoyevsky died of a pulmonary embolism. Thousands of mourners attended his funeral. There are many memorials to the writer in Saint Petersburg and throughout Russia.


You should know that the literary works of Fyodor Dostoyevsky (1821-1881), one of the most prominent Russian writers, is primarily associated with the city of Saint Petersburg. He spent more than 16 years in Russia's Northern Capital and many of his books talk about the city, though some of the writer’s characters were born in Moscow.

Whether you are a fun of Dostoyevsky or not, if you plan a trip to St Petersburg we highly recommend visiting his memorial apartment in St. Petersburg where you can admire Dostoyevsky’s authentic interiors and personal things. The imperial city also boasts three stunning monuments to Dostoyevsky, which you will see when walking around if you come.


From Fyodor Dostoyevsky return to the Homepage

You might like these


If you do, please help others to find out about it. If you have a blog or website, or know someone who does, consider linking to us. Share the link on Facebook, Tweet it... you get the idea. Every link helps!

One more way to share St-Petersburg-Essentialguide.com...

Would you prefer to share this page with others by linking to it?

  1. Click on the HTML link code below.
  2. Copy and paste it, adding a note of your own, into your blog, a Web page, forums, a blog comment, your Facebook account, or anywhere that someone would find this page valuable.