Best known, of course, for his masterpiece War and Peace, Leo Tolstoy's somewhat tumultuous life was no doubt a source of inspiration for his writing. Tolstoy was both prolific and talented, and produced about fifteen books throughout his career.
Tolstoy's life became chaotic early on, with the death of his mother when he was two years old, and the murder of his father when he was just nine. The death of a beloved grandmother followed, and Tolstoy and his siblings were sent to live with various relatives throughout their unhappy childhoods.
Tolstoy joined the military after dabbling around in university studies; he began to write around this time period as well, beginning with autobiographical works or fiction pieces loosely based on his life.
Eventually he left the military and traveled Europe for a few years, before settling and marrying. He began to write in earnest, devoting years to his novels; he experienced a brief period of spiritual confusion that resulted in a moral non-fiction book entitled Confession.
This brought him to the attention of the military police in Russia, and created some tension during the later years of his life. Tolstoy, ultimately unsure of his own moral code and how he felt about the system of society in general, signed the copyright of all of his writings from before 1881 over to his wife.