Although the name of the folklorist Peter Kireevskii is well known to historians of nineteenth-century Russia, comparatively little has been written about his place within the Slavophile circle. Some scholars have treated him as the 'first' Slavophile. Others have questioned whether his views were in any sense really Slavophile at all. This article argues that Peter Kireevskii's life-long interest in Russian folklore was rooted both in his understanding of the Russian countryside and his exposure to the influence of a Russian Romantic tradition that viewed the narod as the authentic representative of national identity. It suggests that Kireevskii was from his youth convinced that Russia possessed a culture and history that was equal in value to any country in the West, but that it was only in the late 1830s that he stressed the role played by Orthodoxy in shaping Russia's development. Although his mature views brought him closer to the Slavophile 'mainstream', there were always some elements that set him apart, perhaps reflecting the fact that Slavophilism was a more eclectic and diverse phenomenon than sometimes realized.