Museum-apartment of Alexei Tolstoy, Moscow, Russia

Museum-apartment of Alexei Tolstoy is a federal museum in memory of the writer Alexei Nikolayevich Tolstoy, owned by the Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation, a branch of the State Literary Museum. It is located in the wing of the former mansion of Stepan Ryabushinsky, where the writer lived from 1941 to 1945. The museum was founded in 1987 on the basis of the will of the widow of Tolstoy. The main exposition is in three rooms: an office, a dining room-living room and a bedroom, which presents a collection of antique furniture.

Aleksei Nikolayevich Tolstoy (December 29, 1882 (January 10, 1883), Nikolaevsk, Samara province – February 23, 1945, Moscow) is a Russian and Soviet writer and public figure from the Tolstoy clan. Author of socio-psychological, historical and science fiction novels, short stories and short novels, journalistic works. Laureate of three Stalin Prizes of the first degree (1941, 1943; 1945 – posthumously).

Alexey Tolstoy was born in the family of Count Nikolai Alexandrovich Tolstoy (1849-1900), however, some biographers attribute paternity to his unofficial stepfather – Alexei Apollonovich Bostrom (1852-1921). Mother – Alexandra Leontyevna (1854-1906), nee Turgenev – writer, granddaughter of the Decembrist Nikolai Turgenev, by the time of the birth of A. N. Tolstoy left her husband to A. A. Bostrom, whom she could not officially marry because of the definition spiritual consistory.

Emigrants Ivan Bunin, Roman Gul, Nina Berberova, whose opinion on this issue, however, can not be considered unbiased, doubted the Tolstoy county.

Bunin in his diary in the penultimate entry of February 23, 1953 spoke precisely about this: “ Yesterday Aldanov said that Alyosha Tolstoy himself told him that he, Tolstoy, bore the name Bostrom until the age of 16, and then went to his imaginary father Count Nick. Tolstoy also begged to legitimize him – Count Tolstoy ”.

Roman Gul in his memoirs states that A. N. Tolstoy was not the biological son of Count Nikolai Tolstoy (referring to the other, undisputed sons of the count).

Alexei Varlamov (author of a biography of Tolstoy published in 2006 in a series of ZHZL) indicates that Guly’s testimony raises serious doubts (given the negative attitude of the memoirist to A.N. Tolstoy). The same author cites the written testimony of Alexandra Leontyevna Tolstoy – she wrote two letters to Bostrom on April 3 and 20, 1883, from which it followed that Count Tolstoy was the real father of the child, and the conception occurred as a result of rape. However, the same author cites written evidence in favor of another version: Aleksandra Leontyevna Tolstaya at one time vowed to the archpriest of the Samara church that the father of the child is Bostrom. Perhaps later, Aleksandra Leontyevna realized that her son is much better off being a legitimate count, and began a long-standing lawsuit about the legality of his birth, last name, middle name and title. This lawsuit was successful only in 1901, when A. N. Tolstoy was already 17 years old.

Sergei Golitsyn in his book, Notes of the Survivor, states: “I remember one story from Uncle Alda from his archival searches. Somewhere, he unearthed a copy of the writer’s mother’s address to the royal name of the writer A.N. Tolstoy: she asks her to give her young son the name and title of her husband, whom she has not lived with for many years. It turned out that the classic of Soviet literature was not at all the third Tolstoy. Uncle showed this document to Bonch. He gasped and said: “Hide the paper and don’t tell anyone about it, it’s a state secret” ”.

The childhood of the future writer was spent in a small estate of A. A. Bostrom on the Sosnovka farm, not far from Samara (currently, the village of Pavlovka in the Krasnoarmeysky district).

In 1897-1898 he lived with his mother in the city of Syzran, where he studied at a real school. In 1898 he moved to Samara.

In the spring of 1905, as a student at the Petersburg Technological Institute, he was sent to practice in the Urals, where he lived in Nevyansk for more than a month. Later, in the book “The Best Travels in the Middle Urals: Facts, Legends, Traditions”, Tolstoy devoted his very first story to The Nevyansk Inclined Tower: “The Old Tower” (1908).

In World War I, a war correspondent. He traveled to France and England (1916).

After the October Revolution, in 1918 – 1923, he was in exile, first in Constantinople and Paris, from October 1921 to July 1923 in Berlin.. Impressions of emigration reflected in the satirical novels “The Adventures of Nevzorov, or Ibicus” (1924) and “Emigrants” (1930). In May 1923 he made a short trip to Russia, where he met an unexpectedly warm welcome.

In 1927 he took part in the collective novel ” Big Fires “, published in the magazine ” Spark “.

In the trilogy “ Walking through the agony ” (1922-1941), he seeks to present Bolshevism as having national and popular soil, and the 1917 revolution as the highest truth comprehended by the Russian intelligentsia.

The historical novel “Peter I” (pr. 1-3, 1929 – 1945, not finished) is perhaps the most famous example of this genre in Soviet literature, contains an apology for a strong and brutal reformist government.

Tolstoy’s novels Aelita (1922–1923) and The Engineer Hyperboloid Garin (1925–1927) became classics of Soviet science fiction.

The story “Bread” (1937), dedicated to Tsaritsyn’s defense during the Civil War, is interesting in that it captures in a fascinating artistic form the vision of the civil war in Russia that existed in the circle of JV Stalin and his associates and served as the basis for the creation of Stalin cult of personality. At the same time, the story pays detailed attention to the description of the warring parties, life and psychology of people of that time.

Among other works: the story “Russian character” (1944), the play “Conspiracy of the Empress” (1925), about the decomposition of the tsarist regime; The Diary of Vyrubova (1927). The folk legend ascribes to him (without any justification) the authorship of the anonymous pornographic story ” Bath “.

In Soviet times, the author subjected some major works to serious revision — the novels “Sisters”, “Hyperboloid of Engineer Garin”, “Emigrants” (“Black Gold”), the play “Love is a Golden Book”, etc.

At the First Congress of Writers in 1934, he made a presentation on drama. In 1936, as a member of the Writers’ Union, he took part in the so-called persecution of the writer Leonid Dobychin, which may have led to the suicide of the latter.

In the 1930s regularly traveled abroad (Germany, Italy – 1932, Germany, France, England – 1935, Czechoslovakia – 1935, England – 1937, France, Spain – 1937). Participant in the First (1935) and Second (1937) congresses of writers in defense of culture.

In August 1933, as a member of a group of writers, he visited the open White Sea-Baltic Canal and became one of the authors of the memorable book “The White Sea-Baltic Canal named after Stalin ” (1934). In 1936-1938, after the death of Maxim Gorky, on a temporary basis he headed the Union of Writers of the USSR. In 1939 he became an academician of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR. Since 1937 – Member of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR of the 1st convocation.

Member of the Commission to Investigate the Crimes of the Fascist Invaders. He was present at the Krasnodar Process. One of the actual co-authors of the famous Molotov-Stalin appeal of 1941, in which Soviet leaders urge people to turn to the experience of their great ancestors:

May the courageous image of our great ancestors – Alexander Nevsky, Dimitry Donskoy, Kuzma Minin, Dimitry Pozharsky, Alexander Suvorov, Mikhail Kutuzov inspire you in this war !
– Stalin’s speech at the Red Army parade on November 7, 1941

During the war years, Alexei Tolstoy wrote about 60 journalistic materials (essays, articles, addresses, sketches about heroes, military operations), starting from the first days of the war (June 27, 1941 – “What we protect”) until his death, at the end winter of 1945. The most famous work of Alexei Tolstoy on the war is considered the essay “Homeland”. In the fall of 1941, he was evacuated near Gorky and lived for more than two months (during September – November) at the dacha in the Zimenki sanatorium on the banks of the Volga.

A.N. Tolstoy died on February 23, 1945, at the 63rd year of his life, from lung cancer. He was buried in Moscow at the Novodevichy cemetery (plot number 2).

In connection with his death, state mourning was declared.

Tolstoy is credited with having produced some of the earliest works of science fiction in the Russian language. His novels Aelita (1923) about a journey to Mars and The Hyperboloid of Engineer Garin (1927) have gained immense public popularity. The former spawned a pioneering sci-fi movie in 1924. His supernatural short story, Count Cagliostro, reportedly inspired the 1984 film Formula of Love.

He penned several books for children, starting with Nikita’s Childhood, a memorable account of his early years (the book is sometimes mistakenly believed to be about his son, Nikita; in truth, however, he only used the name because it was his favorite – and he would later give it to his eldest son). In 1936, he created an adaptation of the famous Italian fairy tale about Pinocchio entitled the Adventures of Buratino or The Golden Key, whose main character, Buratino, quickly became hugely popular among the Soviet populace.

In 1974, a minor planet was discovered by Soviet astronomer Lyudmila Zhuravlyova and named 3771 Alexejtolstoj after the Red Count.


Building history
The memorial museum-apartment of Alexei Tolstoy is located in the former outbuilding of the mansion of Stepan Ryabushkinsky, designed by architect Fedor Shekhtel in 1901-1903. The two-story building belongs to the early modernist style and is a unique architectural monument with elements of English Gothic and Moorish style. Initially, the outbuilding in the courtyard was intended for servants. However, in the 1931-1936s, when the writer Maxim Gorky lived in the building of the mansion, the extension was used by the editions of the journals ” USSR at a Construction Site “, “Our achievements ”,“ History of factories and plants ”. In 1965, the Maxim Gorky Memorial Museum-Apartment was opened in the main building of the estate.

Alexey Tolstoy and his wife Lyudmila Tolstaya settled in the outbuilding in 1941 and lived until their death – in 1945 and 1982, respectively. In this house, Tolstoy worked on the novels “ Walking through the agony ” and “ Peter the Great, ” which remained unfinished. Maxim Gorky called this work “the first historical novel”, because the style of presentation was as close as possible to the XVIII century. The novel was well received in the West, foreign critics praised Tolstoy’s desire for historicity and called the work “a rare classic written in the Soviet Union ”.

The poets Nikolai Tikhonov, Stepan Schipachev, Alexander Twardovsky, Mikhail Isakovsky, Alexei Surkov came to visit the Tolstoy spouses.

In 1957, a monument to Alexei Tolstoy was unveiled near the building, made by sculptor Georgy Motovilov and architect Leonid Polyakov.

November 14, 1980 there was a robbery of the apartment of the widow of the writer. Thieves tied Lyudmila Tolstoy and the servant and carried out a large number of jewelry and antique furniture. After the investigation of Lyudmila Tolstoy, almost all the stolen values were returned. In 2011, the historical detective ” Diamond Hunters ” was filmed about the robbery.

Museum Foundation
Before his death in 1945, Alexei Tolstoy bequeathed his library, a collection of furniture and paintings to the Literary Museum. The opening of the memorial apartment-museum in the outbuilding took place on October 20, 1987 – five years after the death of Lyudmila Tolstoy . For thirty-two years, Tolstaya kept things and furniture in the apartment as they were during her husband’s life.

“This is one of the few museums throughout Russia, significant for its memorial. That is, it means that everything that you see in the museum, everything that you see on the walls, everything that lies, hangs, stands – whatever you like – everything belonged directly to the writer Alexei Nikolayevich Tolstoy.”
Museum Director Irina Andreeva

In 2004, half of the outbuilding was sold to Eurostroy, a private construction company, which caused public outcry and debate about the privatization of architectural monuments in the center of the capital . At the initiative of the Moscow government, checks were carried out on the transfer of state property to private hands. During the investigation, it turned out that the deal was between Eurostroi and the public organization Fund for the Promotion of Artists, headed by Alexander Malykhin. The management of the State Literary Museum and the Museum-Apartment of Alexei Tolstoy stated that they were not familiar with the circumstances of the transaction.

At the beginning of 2018, the museum-apartment of Alexei Tolstoy is still a federal museum owned by the Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation. A virtual tour is available in the museum.

Memorial Rooms
The main part of the exhibition is located in the living-dining room and office. The collection of Alexei Tolstoy is one of the richest in the collections of the State Literary Museum. Most of the exhibits have remained unchanged since the death of the writer, part of the collection, including collected works, are in the funds and are used to organize exhibitions.

The office of Alexei Tolstoy is arranged on the principle of “four tables.” Standing at the main desk, the writer performed handwritten versions of the pages of works. After writing several pages, Tolstoy went to the desk with a typewriter and immediately reprinted the text. At the third table, located by the fireplace, he drank coffee and smoked tobacco – there is a collection of pipes of the writer and rare coffee pots. At this table, the writer rules the printed text. The fourth table was used to work on daily affairs – writing notes for the Supreme Council, replies to letters from soldiers from the front.

“Tolstoy always worked in the morning. And I thought that I should write at least two pages a day. Even on those days in which for some reason Alexei Nikolaevich was supposed to leave home early in the morning, he always tried to write at least a few lines so as not to lose the rhythm of work.”
Literary critic Irakliy Andronnikov

The interiors include many things and the iconography of the Petrine period – immersion in the atmosphere of the 18th century helped Tolstoy write the novel Peter the Great. The emperor’s intravital mask hangs on the cabinet’s wall, and in the corridor is a portrait made using the match mosaic technique. Also in the corridor are two cabinets, which contain lifetime editions of the books of Alexei Tolstoy.

In the former bedroom and in the dining-living room of the museum, furniture of the 18th-19th centuries in Empire style is presented, as well as a chandelier from the time of Catherine II, which the writer personally restored. The collection of Alexey Tolstoy also contains Chinese censers, the works of Abraham Brueghel, David Teniers, Melchior de Hondekutor, a Venetian mirror in a carved frame, a concert grand piano played by Dmitry Shostakovich, Sergei Prokofiev, Stanislav Richter. Georgy Efron noted that “Tolstoy’s house is so original, unusual, and breathes completely different than the common“ lithphone. ”

The museum creates interactive projects for teaching children: “Following the Tracks of the Heroes of Alexei Tolstoy,” “Whatever the Child Amuse…”, “The Museum Showcase – Casket, Shoe, Basket”, it also has the Museum and Theater Project “Theater in the Museum” and “Vacations with a book.” Employees conduct workshops on sewing folk rag dolls, felting felt products, clay sculpting.

In 2009, a concert of chamber music by Bach and Rachmaninov was organized, performed by artists Vadim Kholodenko and Alexei Tolstoy. In 2015, the exhibition “Kreks, Feks, Peks” was held, dedicated to the fairy tale by Alexei Tolstoy ” Golden Key “. In 2017, a film screening of the films “Aelita” and “Formula of Love” was held in the museum hall, as well as a lecture on constructivism. In February 2018, an exhibition of the artist Mikhail Roshnyak, creating paintings from clay and chernozem, was held in the apartment-museum.

In 2018, the State Literary Museum announced the creation of a single call center and excursions combining memorial houses and including walking tours. The exposition of the museum-apartment of Alexei Tolstoy will be presented in a multimedia exhibition “Ten memorial GMIRLI houses”, located in the ” apartment house Lyuboschinskih-Vernadsky” on Zubovsky Boulevard, 15.