Vladimir Lenin: Everything You Didn't Know About The Russian Revolutionary

By Grace Taylor
Embalmed body of Lenin at Red Square. (Getty Images)

Becoming Vladimir Lenin

Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov was born to a middle-class, well-educated family in Simbirsk, Russia on April 22, 1870. His father, Ilya, was a mathematician who had worked his way up from serfdom to eventually becoming the director of schools, and so the Ulyanov children were expected to use this privileged status to gain an education and do great things with their lives. However, Vladimir's elder brother, Alexander, may have mucked things up a bit by trying to blow up Russian Emperor Alexander III with a homemade bomb as his carriage passed them by in St. Petersburg and managed to get himself executed a few months later.

Although Ulyanov thought little of his brother's actions, the suspicion around this possibly radicalized family was enough to get him kicked out of law school when he showed even the slightest signs of political dissent. This expulsion only served to turn him into an autodidact, and he quickly devoured the writings of Communist legend Karl Marx. He joined an intelligentsia-style political book club, so to speak, and became enamored with the idea of a Marxist revolution.