In 1837, soon after their mother’s death, the Dostoevsky brothers travelled to St Petersburg, where they sat the entrance exams to the Imperial Engineering Academy. Mikhail failed, but Fyodor was accepted, though he was denied a scholarship, allegedly because of a lack of family clout. Despite his straitened circumstances he completed his studies in 1843 at the rank of sub-lieutenant and proceeded to a position in the imperial engineering corps.
For reasons that remain unclear, Dostoevsky’s engineering career lasted barely a year, leaving him wholly reliant on a meagre inheritance and his long-shot wager on future literary earnings. No doubt he would have made a poor office worker anyway, but there was also an unsubstantiated rumour that his resignation was personally instigated by Nicholas I, allegedly incensed that the young engineer had submitted a rendering of a fortress without a front entrance [...]
Robert Bird - Times Literary Supplement 19/01/2018
(Konstantin Barsht, The Drawings and calligraphy of Fyodor Dostoevsky, Lemma Press 2017)