Through the great generosity of Andrew Grinberg, Sidney has acquired a rare monument of Russian literature, Count Leo Tolstoy’s Tysiacha Vosemsot Piatyi God [The Year 1805], published in Moscow in 1866.

This novel, which has previously been serialised in a Moscow periodical, is the first version of the first part of War and Peace, first published in its entirety in 1869. Of the 500 copies of The Year 1805 which were printed, it is believed that most were discarded when War and Peace was published in its entirety. Only one other copy is recorded in a British public collection, at the British Library, and there is no copy in the Library of Congress.

The book belonged to Andrew’s Grinberg’s father Saveli Grinberg (1896-1985), who matriculated at Sidney in 1913, having previously studied at the University of St Petersburg. After service in the Russian army during the First World War, he escaped from St Petersburg in 1918 and completed his studies at Sidney, graduating in 1920. 

In 1922 he set up Petropolis-Verlag, a publishing firm based in Berlin, specialising in Russian literature by emigré writers. In 1934 he settled permanently in England and kept up contact with the College, frequently attending reunion dinners. 

After his death most of his collection of Russian literature was given to the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, but The Year 1905 was retained by his family. The gift acknowledges the important role Sidney played in Saveli Grinberg’s life.

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