In 1862, Count Lev Nikolayevich Tolstoy began writing a book that would take six years to finish and eventually be called War & Peace. The epic story is considered one of the greatest novels ever written, remarkable for its dramatic breadth and unity. Its vast canvas includes 580 characters. Tolstoy’s wife, Sophia, hand-copied as many as seven complete manuscripts before Tolstoy considered it ready for publication. Although writing kept him busy, he still found time to father 13 children.