Tolstoy the playwright


Pervyi vinokur ili kak chertenok kraiushku zasluzhil. Komediia

[The First Distiller, or How the Little Devil Earned his Crust. A Comedy]

Publication: I.D. Sytin for Posrednik, Moskva, 1886.

TOLSTOY, Lev, Pervyi vinokur ili kak chertenok kraiushku zasluzhil. Komediia

First edition of Tolstoy’s successful play on wine and some of its effects… Lovely example in wrappers. Scarce.

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Our Notes & References

The rare first edition of Tolstoy’s first play: a desirable example in the original wrappers.

The First Distiller is a comedy on the evils of drink. Its first performances, in an open-air theatre, are said to have been so popular that censors became concerned and banned subsequent performances. Tolstoy’s The Power of Darkness – the only other play published in his lifetime – was written later in the same year. Tolstoy would have published more plays, but found censors particularly critical of his dramatic works.


Aleksandr Bogodurov (1873-1952, Nizhny Novgorod landowner; stamp and manuscript shelf mark on the front wrapper; stamp in the margin of p.1); ‘O’ (stamp on the front wrapper and margin of p.1); Robert Eden Martin (b. 1940; American lawyer and noted collector of Russian, British and American literature works).

Item number



Physical Description

16mo (17 x 11.8 cm).


Original publisher’s illustrated pink paper wrappers printed in red and black.


Some creasing and light wear; edges lightly faded; a few leaves coming loose; some creases.

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