On this day November 10, 1866, Fedor Dostoevsky finished dictating his novel “The Gambler” to his stenographer, Anna Snitkina. The novel, completed in less than thirty days, saved the famous Russian writer from losing the rights to his other works and produced a happy marriage.
Already an accomplished writer by this time, Dostoevsky had suffered from a gambling compulsion most of his life. On another trip to the casinos of Baden-Baden in 1863, the writer lost all his money at the roulette table in the course of only a few days. On returning to Russia, Dostoevsky was threatened of being thrown into a debtors' prison.
Driven to despair, in a bind with debt and poverty, Dostoevsky entered a shackling contract with publisher Fedor Stellovsky, in the late summer of 1866, for the sake of an advance. The bargain with Stellovsky was an extremely unprofitable and risky undertaking – Dostoevsky agreed to complete a new novel by 14 November or else he would have to forfeit the rights to (and financial benefits from) all his works for the next nine years.
As the term was rapidly approaching, the task seemed impossible. With only a month left to meet the deadline, his old friend Aleksandr Milyukov suggested he should use the services of one of his good friends, who possessed a rare (at the time) skill of a stenographer.
That friend was a 20-year-old woman named Anna Snitkina and Dostoevsky, 45 at the time, was her literary hero. She had discovered his works at an early age and was much awe with meeting the well-known writer.
On October 16, Anna Snitkina agreed to work with Dostoevsky free of charge, and on the same day, the writer began dictating “The Gambler” to her.
Throughout October, for almost ten hours daily, Snitkina took down his new novel. In order to save time and money for transport, she moved in to live in the same tiny apartment rented by Dostoevsky. In the evenings she would transcribe his work into longhand, while he overnight, would compose more of the novel to dictate to her the following day.
On the night of November 10, “The Gambler”, one of Dostoevsky's best novels, was completed and delivered to Stellovsky several days later. Soon thereafter, Dostoevsky proposed to Snitkina and they were married in 1867. Their union developed into a happy one, and provided Dostoevsky with the stable family life he had longed for.