Vladimir Lenin

Lenin was born Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov, on 22 April [O.S. 10 April] 1870, to Maria Alexandrovna Blank, a schoolmistress, and Ilya Nikolayevich Ulyanov a physics instructor, at Simbirsk, a Volga River town in the Russian Empire of the nineteenth century; following family custom, he was baptized into the Russian Orthodox Church. Later, the USSR renamed Simbirsk as Ulyanovsk.
In 1869, Ilya Ulyanov became the Inspector of Public Schools, and later the Director of Elementary Schools, for the Simbirsk Gubernia Oblast (province), a successful career in the Imperial Russian public education system. Yet, Tsarist cultural mores defined the Ulyanov family stock as "ethnically mixed" — "Mordovian, Kalmyk, Jewish (cf. Blank family), Volgan German, and Swedish, and possibly others"; none the less, being of the intelligentsia, the Ulyanovs educated their children against the ills of their time (violations of human rights, servile psychology, etc.), and instilled readiness to struggle for higher ideals, a free society, and equal rights. Subsequently, excepting Olga (dead at age 19), every Ulyanov child became a revolutionary.
In January 1886, his father died of a cerebral hemorrhage; in May 1887 (when 17 years old), his eldest brother Aleksandr Ulyanov was hanged for participating in a terrorist assassination attempt against the Tsar, Alexander III (1881–94). His sister, Anna Ulyanova, with Aleksandr when arrested, was banished to an Ulyanov family estate at Kokushkino, a village some 40 km (25 mi.) from Kazan — those events transformed Lenin into a political radical, which official Soviet biographies represent as central to his assuming the revolutionary track as political life.
Complementing these personal, emotional, and political upheavals was his matriculation, in August 1887, to the Kazan University, where he studied law and read the works of Karl Marx. That Marxism-derived political development involved Lenin in a student riot, and consequent arrest, in December 1887;...