Modern Languages and Literatures, Department of


Date of this Version



Tolstoy Studies Journal 23 (2011), pp. 61-68.


Published by the Tolstoy Society of America and the University of Toronto. Copyright (c) 2011 Radha Balasubramanian.


On May 30, 1901 The Hindu published its first lengthy editorial on Count Leo Tolstoy. It was followed by a personal letter to Tolstoy on June 13, 1901 from A. Ramaseshan, publicist and editor of the journal The Arya out of Madras. This seminal letter set the stage for a steady correspondence between Tolstoy and many Indians from different walks of life, the most prominent among them being M. K. Gandhi (1869-1948), who, as a political and ideological leader of India during the Indian Independence Movement, wrote to the Russian writer between 1909-1910.

Some of the essence of this continuous correspondence with Indian freedom fighters, religious thinkers, philosophers and the general public in Colonial India, was shared through newspaper columns. The surprisingly extensive coverage of Tolstoy’s life and beliefs during those years shows that his voice and image were revered by the Indian reading public. His death was sincerely mourned; he has not been since forgotten. The following is a selection of archival materials from two Indian English-language newspapers and a weekly journal (published from one of the newspaper offices) that gives us a glimpse into the extraordinary interest the reading public took in Tolstoy and his work.