Fyodor Dostoevsky was born in Moscow in 1821. Between 1838 and 1843 he studied at the St Petersburg Engineering Academy. His first work of fiction was the epistolary novel Poor Folk (1846), which met with a generally favourable response. However, his immediately subsequent works were less enthusiastically received. In 1849 Dostoevsky was arrested as a member of the socialist Petrashevsky circle, and subjected to a mock execution. He suffered four years in a Siberian penal settlement and then another four years of enforced military service. He returned to writing in the late 1850s and travelled abroad in the 1860s. It was during the last twenty years of his life that he wrote the iconic works, such as Notes from the Underground (1864), Crime and Punishment (1866), The Idiot (1868) and The Brothers Karamazov (1880), which were to form the basis of his formidable reputation. He died in 1881.
Sign up to the Pan Macmillan newsletter for great extra content and free extracts.