Fyodor Ivanovich Tyutchev

Portrait of Fyodor Ivanovich Tyutchev

Fyodor Ivanovich Tyutchev was a Russian poet and diplomat. He was born on 5th December 1803 in Ovstug, Russia and died on 27th July 1873 in St Petersburg, Russia aged 69.

Major Works

“Just as the ocean’s mantling cloak surrounds” (1828)
“That Day remains in Memory”“Cicero” (1829)
“Silentium!” (1830)
“The earth still wears a sombre air” (1834)
The Last Love” (1850)

Biography Timeline

Fyodor Tyutchev was born on 5th December 1803 in Ovstug, Russia on the family estate. His father was Ivan Nikolaevich Tyutchev, a councillor at the Tsarist court who was responsible for building and restoration works of the Moscow palaces. His mother was Ekaterina Lvovna Tolstaya. Her mother was a member of the Rimsky-Korsakov family therefore she was related to novelists and musicians via relatives. Most of his childhood was spent in Moscow. The family tutor was the minor poet Semyon Raich who was an expert in the new German philosophy coming out of Jena University.

1818: He joins the classicist academy of Professor Merzlyakov at the age of 15 and produces his first printed work, a translation of “Epistle to Maecenas” by the Ancient Roman poet Horace.  

1819: He attends the Philological Faculty of Moscow University where he graduates in 1821.

1822: He joins the Foreign Office as a trainee diplomat and accompanies a relative, Count Ostermann-Tolstoy, to Munich, Germany. He falls in love not only with the city but also Bavarian Countess Amalie Lerchenfeld.

1825: In January Amélie is forced by her family to marry the much older Baron Alexander von Krüdener. The two colleagues almost fight a duel over her but thereafter continue to be friends.

1826: He marries the Bavarian widow of another Russian diplomat, Emilia-Eleonora Peterson, Countess von Bothmer. She holds a fashionable literary salon attended by people such as Heinrich Heine and the German Romantic philosopher Friedrich Schelling and his poetry from this period reflects his new influences.

1829: Their first daughter Anna Fedorovna is born.

1833: As he enjoys travel, he frequently volunteers for diplomatic courier work as a way of combining business with a desire to see new places. He travels to the newly independent Greece on an extended mission.

1834: Birth of their second daughter Daria.

1835: Birth of daughter Ekaterina.

1836: Prince Gagarin, a former Munich colleague, asks him for permission to publish his selected poems in the literary Journal “Sovremennik” which is edited by Alexander Pushkin. They aren’t well received by the public and for the next fourteen years he doesn’t publish anymore poetry, dedicating himself instead to political articles in western periodicals such as the “Revue des Deux Mondes” stating his views on Russia’s role in the world.

1837: He is transferred to Turin in Italy but does not like his surroundings.

1838: His wife Eleonore dies and he leaves his post to marry his mistress Baroness Ernestine von Domberg in Switzerland and they then move back to Munich. As he had not asked for permission to leave he is officially dismissed from the service.

1840: His daughter Maria is born to his new wife.

1841: Birth of his son Dmitry.

1844: He returns to Russia to live in Saint Petersburg where he is lionised in society and the novelist Leo Tolstoy wants to marry his daughter Kitty. Tyutchev regarded his poems as not worthy of printing and often didn’t bother to write them down and was little known in his lifetime although today he is much quoted in Russia. Not long after his return he is re-instated by the government as a censor and rises eventually to become Chairman of the Foreign Censorship Committee and a Privy Councillor. He embarks on several European tours thereafter and is particularly fond of Switzerland.

1846: His father Nikolaevich dies. 

1850: He begins an affair with Elena Denisyeva who bears him three children including a son Ivan. His masterpiece “The Last Love” is inspired by her but she is later to die of tuberculosis in 1864.

1854: The novelist Ivan Turgenev enables a collection of his poems to be printed for him without any help by the author.

1861: He welcomes the reforms of Tsar Alexander the Second, particularly the Emancipation Reform of 1861. In his work and his own writings, he is dedicated to the ideal of freedom of expression, even to the extent of upsetting his superiors.

1866: His mother Ekaterina dies.

1870: He meets Amalie again in Karlsbad with her new husband Nikolay Adlerberg who is Governor-General of Finland. 

1873: On 31st March he meets Amalie for the last time when she visits him at home as he is gravely ill.

Fyodor Tyutchev died on 27th July 1873, following several strokes, in Tsarskoe Selo, Russia. He was buried in Novodevichy Monastery in Saint Petersburg.