Ödönvon Horváth Biography


(Critical Edition of Dramatic Literature)

Ödön von Horváth was born in 1901 to upper-middle-class parents, the son of a diplomat. Because of the father’s occupation, the family moved frequently during Horváth’s early years, and he resided in various cities in the Austro-Hungarian Empire and in Germany, such as Belgrade, Budapest, Munich, and Vienna. In 1919, he attended the University of Munich for several semesters, and in 1924 he moved to Berlin, where his early plays met with some success and he gained a reputation as a talented dramatist. Performances of his work also began to attract the vigorous protests of the National Socialists in the late 1920’s. In 1931—on the recommendation of the well-known playwright Carl Zuckmayer—Horváth was awarded the coveted Kleist Prize. He left Germany in 1933, after Hitler’s election, and moved to Budapest and then to Vienna. When Austria joined the Nazi Reich in 1938, Horváth went into exile in Paris. On June 1, 1938, he met a bizarre and untimely death: He sought shelter under a tree on the Champs-Élysées during a thunderstorm and was killed by a falling branch. He is buried in Paris.