Lenin was born in Simbirsk on 22 April 1870 and baptised six days later; as a child he was known as "Volodya", a dimunitive of Vladimir.

In January 1886, when Lenin was 15, his father died of a brain haemorrhage. Subsequently, his behaviour became erratic and confrontational and he renounced his belief in God.

Upon entering Kazan University in August 1887, Lenin moved into a nearby flat.

In September 1889, the Ulyanov family moved to the city of Samara.

In late 1893, Lenin moved to Saint Petersburg. There, he worked as a barrister's assistant and rose to a senior position in a Marxist revolutionary cell that called itself the "Social-Democrats" after the Marxist Social Democratic Party of Germany.

In February 1897, he was sentenced without trial to three years' exile in eastern Siberia. He was granted a few days in Saint Petersburg to put his affairs in order and used this time to meet with the Social-Democrats, who had renamed themselves the League of Struggle for the Emancipation of the Working Class.

In May 1898, Nadya joined him in exile, having been arrested in August 1896 for organising a strike. She was initially posted to Ufa, but persuaded the authorities to move her to Shushenskoye, claiming that she and Lenin were engaged; they married in a church on 10 July 1898.

After his exile, Lenin settled in Pskov in early 1900. There, he began raising funds for a newspaper, Iskra ("Spark"), a new organ of the Russian Marxist party, now calling itself the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party (RSDLP).

In January 1905, the Bloody Sunday massacre of protesters in St. Petersburg sparked a spate of civil unrest known as the Revolution of 1905.

In response to the revolution of 1905, Tsar Nicholas II accepted a series of liberal reforms in his October Manifesto, after which Lenin felt it safe to return to St. Petersburg.

In February 1917, the February Revolution broke out in St. Petersburg – renamed Petrograd at the beginning of the First World War – as industrial workers went on strike over food shortages and deteriorating factory conditions.

The Provisional Government had planned for a Constituent Assembly to be elected in November 1917; against Lenin's objections, Sovnarkom agreed for the vote to take place as scheduled.

In January 1918, he survived an assassination attempt in Petrograd; Fritz Platten, who was with Lenin at the time, shielded him and was injured by a bullet.

In February 1921, Lenin introduced a New Economic Policy (NEP) to the Politburo; he convinced most senior Bolsheviks of its necessity and it passed into law in April.

The Union of Socialist Soviet Republics (USSR) is formally established on December 30, 1922, after years of civil war within Russia and its neighboring regions, now part of the USSR. Lenin has achieved his dream, but the party is beginning to stray from his Socialist vision.

Despite suffering from semi-paralysis, Lenin dictates a series of articles and his political "Testament" to his secretary, finishing on January 4, 1923. The "Testament" describes his fear that the party will destabilize under the leadership of Trotsky and Joseph Stalin, who is rapidly consolidating power as general secretary.

On 21 January 1924, Lenin fell into a coma and died later that day.