Aylmer Maude : Activist, Friend, and Translator of Leo Tolstoy

Revolt Library People Aylmer Maude

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Aylmer Maude and Louise Maude were English translators of Leo Tolstoy's works, and Aylmer Maude also wrote his friend Tolstoy's biography, The Life of Tolstoy. After living many years in Russia the Maudes spent the rest of their life in England translating Tolstoy's writing and promoting public interest in his work. Aylmer Maude was also involved in a number of early 20th century progressive and idealistic causes.

Aylmer Maude was born in Ipswich, the son of a Church of England clergyman, Reverend F.H. Maude, and his wife Lucy, who came from a Quaker background. The family lived near the newly built Holy Trinity Church where Rev. Maude's preaching helped draw a large congregation. A few of the vicar's earlier sermons were published with stirring titles like Nineveh: A Warning to England!, but later he moved from Evangelical Anglicanism towards the Anglo-Catholic Church Union.

After boarding at Christ's Hospital from 1868 to 1874, Aylmer went to study at the Moscow Lyceum from 1874 to 1876, and was a tutor there between 1877 and 1880. Meanwhile, he got to know the thriving British community in Moscow, was involved in their amateur dramatics and debating, and played a great deal of chess. One of his chess partners, Archibald Mirrielees, employed him to manage the carpet department at the Scots-owned department store, Muir & Mirrielees. This led to Maude's becoming business manager and then director of the Anglo-Russian Carpet Company. Despite this position he "rejected the business ethos" of his British compatriots, took a thoughtful interest in Russian society, and has been described as the only "important intermediary between the two cultures" at that time.

Louise Maude was born Louise Shanks in Moscow, one of the eight children of James Steuart Shanks, was the founder and director of Shanks & Bolin, Magasin Anglais (English store). Two of Louise's sisters were artists: Mary knew Tolstoy and prepared illustrations for Where Love is, God is, and Emily was a painter and the first woman to become a full member of the Peredvizhniki. Louise married Aylmer Maude in 1884 in an Anglican ceremony at the British vice-consulate in Moscow, and they had five sons, one of them still-born.

Aylmer Maude met Tolstoy in 1888, introduced to him by Peter Alekseyev, a doctor married to Maude's sister Lucy. Maude was a frequent visitor, an admirer and friend, playing tennis and chess, enjoying long discussions, but not always agreeing with the great writer 30 years his senior. Tolstoy made return visits, getting to know Louise and the family, even showing the boys how to make "paper cockerels." After the Maudes settled in England, Tolstoy and Aylmer Maude kept up a regular correspondence, with Maude making occasional trips to Russia to see Tolstoy at his Yasnaya Polyana estate. During his 1902 visit Tolstoy authorized Maude to write his biography.

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