Botho Strauss was born in Naumburg an der Saale. He studied German literature, theater, and sociology for five semesters at the universities of Cologne and Munich. He found his way to the theater first as an actor in amateur performances. From 1967 to 1970 he wrote theater reviews for Theater heute, the most important German journal for contemporary drama.
Then he turned to practical theater work as dramaturge in Berlin from 1970 to 1975, where he collaborated with Peter Stein, one of Germany’s most influential theatrical directors. Their work was groundbreaking, and Strauss contributed extensively to the 1974 production of Maxim Gorky’s Dachniki (pr., pb. 1904; Summer Folk, 1905), which shows affinities with Strauss’s own work.
In the mid-1970’s, at about the time that Gorky’s Summer Folk premiered and toured internationally, Strauss’s plays met with increasing success. His breakthrough as a dramatist came in 1978 with Big and Little. A popular playwright by the end of the 1970’s, he became one of the preeminent German-language playwrights of the 1980’s and has remained a prolific and influential writer.