Anna Dostoevskaya

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Anna Dostoevskaya
Anna Grigoryevna Snitkina (Анна Сниткина)

(1846-09-12)12 September 1846
Died9 June 1918(1918-06-09) (aged 71)
Resting placeTikhvin Cemetery
Fyodor Dostoevsky
(m. 1867; died 1881)
  • Sophia (1868)
  • Lyubov (1869–1926)
  • Fyodor (1871–1922)
  • Alexei (1875–1878)

Anna Grigoryevna Dostoevskaya (Russian: Анна Григорьевна Достоевская; 12 September 1846 – 9 June 1918) was a Russian memoirist, stenographer, assistant, and the second wife of Fyodor Dostoevsky (since 1867). She was also one of the first female philatelists in Russia. She wrote two biographical books about Fyodor Dostoevsky: Anna Dostoyevskaya's Diary in 1867, which was published in 1923 after her death, and Memoirs of Anna Dostoyevskaya (also known as Reminiscence of Anna Dostoyevskaya[1]), published in 1925.[2]

Early life[edit]

Anna Dostoevskaya (née Snitkina) was born to Maria Anna and Grigory Ivanovich Snitkin. Anna graduated academic high school summa cum laude and subsequently trained as a stenographer.[3]


On 4 October 1866, Anna Snitkina started working as a stenographer on Fyodor Dostoevsky's novel The Gambler.[4] A month later they became engaged.[4]

In the Memoirs, Anna describes how Dostoevsky began his marriage proposal by outlining the plot of an imaginary new novel, as if he needed her advice on female psychology.[5] In the story an old painter makes a proposal to a young girl whose name is Anya. Dostoevsky asked if it was possible for a girl so young and different in personality to fall in love with the painter. Anna answered that it was quite possible. Then he told Anna: "Put yourself in her place for a moment. Imagine I am the painter, I confessed to you and asked you to be my wife. What would you answer?" Anna said: "I would answer that I love you and I will love you forever".[6][7]

On 15 February 1867, the couple were married. Two months later they went abroad, where they remained for over four years (until July 1871). Shortly before their departure two of Dostoevsky's creditors filed charges against him.[1]

During a stop in Baden, Dostoevsky lost all of his money playing roulette, as well as his wife's clothes and belongings. Anna seems to have succeeded, like Dostoevsky himself, in divorcing his gambling mania from his moral personality, and in regarding it as something extraneous to his true character.[8] At that time Anna started writing the diary.[1] For almost a year they lived in Geneva. Dostoevsky worked very hard to regain his fortune. On 22 February 1868 their first daughter Sofia was born, but she died on 24 May at the age of three months. In 1869, in Dresden, their second daughter was born, named Lyubov Dostoyevskaya (died in 1926). Upon returning to St. Petersburg Anna gave birth to two sons Fyodor (16 July 1871 – 1922) and Alexey (10 August 1875 – 16 May 1878). Anna took over all finance issues, including publishing business matters and negotiations, and soon liberated her husband from debt. In 1871, Dostoevsky gave up gambling.

Later life[edit]

Dostoevskaya in the 1880s

In the year of Dostoevsky's death (1881) Anna turned 35 years old. She never remarried. After the death of her husband she collected his manuscripts, letters, documents and photographs. In 1906 she created a room dedicated to Fyodor Dostoevsky in the State Historical Museum.


Anna Dostoevskaya née Snitkina trained to be a stenographer and planned to earn her own living. She was recommended by her professor to Fyodor Dostoevsky to help him complete his novel The Gambler. Dostoevsky had agreed to a contract with publisher F. T. Stellovsky which would have forfeited his copyright for this novel and future novels for nearly 10 years if he did not meet a deadline. Anna's family were great admirers of Dostoevsky, particularly her father, who had read all of his books. They did not have much time, but Anna was determined. Initially Dostoevsky dictated too fast but once they established a pace they completed the project just in time. They also fell in love.

Anna did not have the career she planned but she was essential to Dostoevsky's work. She took over sales of his novels, particularly Demons, from their apartment in St Petersburg, and began managing his business affairs.[9] [10]


Her stamp collection was established in 1867 in Dresden. It started, as explained in the Memoirs of Anna Dostoyevskaya, with a dispute between Anna and Fyodor Dostoyevsky, who made some critical comments about female inconstancy. Anna was annoyed that her husband did not consider women of her generation capable of persistence or devotion to anything. She told her husband that she would prove him wrong and show him that a woman may pursue one goal for years. She decided to collect stamps and filled up her collection throughout her life. According to the Memoirs, she didn't buy a single stamp. All of them were either her own discoveries or donations from friends. The fate of this collection is unknown.[11]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Lantz, K. A. (2004). The Dostoevsky Encyclopedia. Greenwood Publishing Group. pp. 97–99. ISBN 0-313-30384-3.
  2. ^ Достоевская, А.Г. "антикварный интернет-магазин". Retrieved 25 March 2012.
  3. ^ Kjetsaa 1989, pp. 252–253.
  4. ^ a b Lantz, K. A. (2004). "Chronology". The Dostoevsky Encyclopedia. Greenwood Publishing Group. ISBN 0-313-30384-3.
  5. ^ Nasedkin, Nicholay. "Around Dostoyevsky" (in Russian). Archived from the original on 22 January 2010. Retrieved 21 June 2010.
  6. ^ Memoirs of Anna Dostoyevskaya, pp. 96–97
  7. ^ Korneichuk, Dmitry. "Life of Fyodor Dostoyevsky: Women's motives" (in Russian). Chronos. Archived from the original on 9 June 2010. Retrieved 21 June 2010.
  8. ^ Kavouras, Ioannis. "Dostoevsky: life and gambling in Baden Baden". Roulette 30. Retrieved 7 November 2017.
  9. ^ Joseph Frank: Dostoevsky: A Writer in his Time, Princeton University Press; With a New preface by the author edition (26 Aug. 2012)
  10. ^ Judith Gunn Dostoyevsky: A Life of Contradiction, Amberley Publishing
  11. ^ Strygin, Andrey (6 June 2001). "Female subject in philately" (in Russian). Nezavisimaya Gazeta. Archived from the original on 1 December 2008.

Further reading[edit]

  • Dostoevsky: Reminiscences. New York: Liveright Publishing Company, 1977.
  • "Reminiscences of Dostoyevsky by His Wife" in Dostoyevsky: Letters and Reminiscences. London: Chatto and Windus, 1923, pp. 97–155.
  • Kjetsaa, Geir (15 January 1989). A Writer's Life. Fawcett Columbine.

External links[edit]