A Brief Chronology of Kafka's Life

Franz Kafka born July 3 in Prague -Alstandt, the first child of the merchant Hermann Kafka (1852-1931) and his wife Julie, née Löwy (1856-1934).  His brothers and his sisters: Georg (born 1885, died fifteen months later; Heinrich (born 1887, died six months later); Gabriele, called Elli (1889-1941); Valerie, called Valli (1890-1942); and Ottilie, called Ottla (1892-1943).

Kafka's birth certificate
House number 27/I at the corner of Karpfensgasse and Enge Gasse (later Maiselgasse), where Kafka was born on July 3, 1883
Above:  The old city between 1826 and 1834.  Easily identifiable are Kafka's birthplace (X) and two of the family's later addresses, the Minuta House (+) and Zeltnergasse 3 (O).
Left:  About one year old (1884)
Right:  Taken between his second and third year
Almost thirty years later Kafka sent this picture to his fiancée, Felice Bauer, with the comment: "I enclose a picture of myself when I was perhaps 5 years old.  At that time, that angry face was just for fun, but now I think of it as the secret truth...I probably wasn't really five in this photograph--more like two-but you, as someone who likes children, would be a better judge of that than I.  When there are children around I prefer to keep my eyes shut."

Attends the Deutsche Knabenschule (German Primary School for Boys) on the Fleischmarkt in Prague.

Attends the humanistic Staatsgymnasium mit deutscher Unterrichssprache in Prag-Alstadt, a high school where all instruction was in German.  Emil Gschwind was head master for Kafka's class.  First writings (destroyed).

This was probably Kafka's first writing table when he was a student.  It was found among the family's possessions.

Bar mitzvah:  June 13


Invitation from Hermann Kafka and wife, sent to                Left:  The ceiling of the Zigeuner (Gypsy) Synagogue with its stucco decorations.  The
friends announcing his son's confirmation.                           building was demolished during the "sanitizing" of the ghetto.  Right:  Kafka at age thirteen.

Friendship with Rudolf Illowý; discussions of social issues and problems.

Friendship with Hugo Bergmann, Ewald Felix Pribram,and particularly Oskar Pollak (until 1904).  Regular reader of the cultural journal Der Kunstwart (Guardian of the Arts), edited by Ferdinand Avenarius.  Under the influence of his natural history instructor, Adolf Gottwald, reads Darwin and Haeckel.

Summer vacation with Uncle Siegfred, the country doctor in Triesch, and at Roztock, the parents' vacation resort.  Reads Nietzche

Dr. Siegfried Lowy

Graduates from Gymnasium.  First vacation by himself, on the German North Sea islands of Norderney and Helgoland.  In autumn begins, studies at the German University of Prague:  chemistry for the first two weeks, then law; also hears lectures in art history.

Pursues German studies during summer semester.  Summer vacation in Liboch and in Triesch with Dr. Siegfried Löwy (the country doctor).  Trip to Munich with plans to continue German studies there.  Returns for winter semester to Prague University where he continues with law.  First meeting with Max Brod.

In summer, state examinations in history of law, followed by stay at Dr. Lahmann's Sanatorium in  Weisser Hirsch near Dresden.  Afterward travels to Southern Bohemia.

Begins work on "Description of a Struggle" ("Beschreibung eines Kampfes").

Spends summer at the Schweinnburg Sanatorium in Zuckmantel.  First love affair.  Visits aunts Anna and Julie in Strakonitz with his mother and three sisters.  In the following winter, beginning of regular meetings with friends Oskar Baum, Felix Weltsch, and Max Brod.

Apprenticeship in law office.  July 18, graduates with degree in law.  Again vacations in Zuckmantel.  In autumn, begins one-year legal internship, first in the Langericht (provincial high court), then in the Strafgericht (criminal court).  Writes "Wedding Preparations in the Country" ("Hochzeitsvorbereitungen auf dem Lande").

Kafka as a Doctor of Law around 1906

Spends summer in Triesch.  Meets Hedwig Weiler.  In October assumes temporary post with the Assicurazioni Generali, a private insurance firm in Prague.

Hedwig Weiler.  Kafka met her in Triesch in 1907                The headquarters of the Assicurazioni Generali on the Wezelspatz.
                                                                          Kafka worked for this private insurance firm from
                                                                                         October 1907 to July 1908

First publication: eight prose pieces in the literary magazine Hyperion, edited by Franz Blei, later reprinted as part of the volume of pieces Meditation (Betrachtung).  In July, position as a junior assistant with the Arbeiter-Unfall-Versicherungs-Anstalt für das Königreich Böhmen in Prag (The Workers Accident Insurance Company for the Kingdom of Bohemia in Prague), a job "with standard hours."  First trip for the company, to Tetschen.  One week vacation in Spitzberg in the Bohemian Forest.  Beginning of close friendship with Max Brod.  Numerous short trips to the country side around Prague.  Spends time in cabarets, coffeehouses, cafés chantants.

Vacation with Max and Otto Brod in Riva on Lake Garda.  Writes "The Aeroplanes in Brescia" (Die Aeroplane in Brescia").  Numerous business trips:  Tetschen, Pilsen, Maffersdorf.  Begins keeping diaries. March: Publication of two sections from "Description of a Struggle" in Hyperion.

One of the first pages of the diary Kafka kept from 1910 on.

March: Publication of five pieces in Bohemia.  In May, promoted to Concipist (a junior official) for his firm.  Visits electioneering assemblies and Socialist mass meetings.  Sees Yiddish acting troupe.  Attends evening lectures at Berta Fanta's intellectual salon.  Vacation trip to Paris with Max and Otto Brod.  Business trip to Gablonz.  In December, a week in Berlin.

January-February: Beginning of travel diaries.  Many business trips to Reichenberg and Friedland in Northern Bohemia, and to Warnsdorf, where he meets the natural -health practitioner Schnitzer.  Vacation trip with Max Broad to the north Italian lakes and Paris, followed by a week alone at the Fellenberg natural health sanatorium in Erlenbach near Zurich.  Financed by his father, he becomes a silent partner in the asbestos factory of his brother-in-law Josef Pollak.  Friendship with the Yiddish actor Yitzak Löwy.  Pursues interest in Judaism.

First draft of Amerika (Brod's title for Der Verschollene, the man who was never heard from again").  Summer vacation trip with Max Brod to Weimar, followed by three weeks alone at another natural-health resort, Justs Jungborn (Just's Fountain of Youth) in the Harz Mountains.  In August, puts together his first book, Meditation, and first meets Felice Bauer.  September 22-23 writes, "The Judgment" ("Das Urteil") overnight.  In October, considers suicide when his family insists that he take over directorship of the "hated" asbestos factory.  November, December, "The Metamorphosis" (Die Verwandlung").  Business trips to Kratzau and Leitmeritz.  Second draft of Amerika.  Publication of Meditation published by Rowohlt.

Kafka's fourth book:  The Judgement                                                                  Kafka's first book:  Meditation

January 18:  meets Martin Buber.  Business trips to Leitmeritz and Aussig.  Promotion to vice-secretary.  Visits Felice Bauer in Berlin three times.  Gardening work at the Pomological Institute in Troja near Prague.  In September, trip with Director Marschner to the "International Congress for Rescue Services and Accident Prevention" in Vienna; continues trip alone via Trieste, Venice, Verona and Desenzano to Riva and the sanatorium of Dr. von Hartungen.  Love affair with "the Swiss girl".  Publication of  The Stoker (Der Heizer, later to be the first chapter of Amerika).  Meets Grete Bloch.

Kafka's second book:  The Stroker

Visits Felice Bauer twice in Berlin.  She comes to Prague.  Their official engagement in Berlin, June 1.  Trip to Hellerau.  On July 12, the "courtroom drama at the hotel"  in Berlin; the engagement is broken.  Trip with Ernst Weiss to the Danish Baltic Sea resort of Marielyst.  Beginning in August., lives first with sister Valli on Bilekgasse, then with Elli on the Nerudagasse.  Works on The Trial (Der Prozess).  Writes "In the Penal Colony"  ("In der Strafkolonie").  December writes, "The Village Schoolmaster [ "The Giant Mole"] (unfinished).

January 17:  Stops work on "The Trial".  January 23-24, first reunion with Felice in Bodenbach.   In January-February:  Writes "blumfeld, an Elderly Bachelor" (unfinished).   In March, moves into his own quarters, a single room on the Langengasse.  May 23-24: With Felice Bauer and Grete Bloch in Bohemian Switerland.  June trip to Karlsbad with Felice. Trip to Hungary in April with Elli.  In July, visit to Frankenstein Sanatorium near Rumburg.  The writer Carl Sternheim presents the Fontane Prize money to Kafka.  The Metamorphosis published in Die weissen Blätter.  Then in November the book publication of "The Metamorphosis".

Kafka's third book:  The Metamorphosis

April:  Official trip to Karslbad with his sister Ottla.  July 3-12 ; ten days with Felice Bauer in Marienbad; with Felice to Franzensbad; then alone at Marienbad.   October: Publication of collection of stories  "The Judgment".  Gives public reading of "In the Penal Colony" in Munich.  Beginning in November, in a small house on the Alchimistengasse rented by sister Ottla, writes the stories later collected in A Country Doctor (Ein Landarzt).

Winter:  Writes " The Warden of the Tomb"

In March, takes an apartment in the Schönborn Palais.  Spring:  Writes "An Imperial Message" as part of the story, "The Great Wall of China" and "The Hunter Graachus".   Summer begins studies in Hebrew.  Writes "A Report to an Academy."  Travels with Felice to visit her sister in Budapest. July, second engagement to Felice in Prague.   "An Old Manuscript" and "A Fratricide" published in Marsyas.  August 9-10, a hemorrhage, onset of tuberculosis of the lungs.  In September, moves to Ottla's country house in Zürau, (until April 1918), where she is studying agricultural methods.  In November, "A Report to an Academy" published in Der Jude.   In December, second engagement broken.

Felice and Kafka in Budapest, early July 1917

In April leaves Zürau and return to Prague.  In May, takes up insurance company work again.  Renews interest in gardening in Troja.  In September, garden work and recuperation in Turnau. Mid-October-late November ill with Spanish influenza; sick again after a few days back at work.   Returns to Prague.  December spent in Schelesen.

January 22 returns to Schelesen; meets Julie Wohryzek.  Back in Prague by April. May, publication of collection of stories In the Penal Colony in book form. Summer, engagement to Julie Wohryzek.  Autumn, publication of "A Country Doctor.  Takes Hebrew lessons from Friedrich Thieberger.  October receives first letter from Milena Jesenká-Polak. November, wedding with Julie Wohryzek scheduled for November 2 or 9, but postponed because of apartment problems.  Returns to Schelesen with Max Brod, writes letter to his father (Brief an den Vater); meets Minze Eisner.  In December, back to Prague.

Winter:  Recurrent illness.

Promotion to company secretary.  Writes aphorisms for the collection He (Er).  Acquaintance with Gustav Janouch.  In April, to Merano and correspondence with Milena Jesenká.  June 27-July 4: In Vienna; four days with Milena.   July breaks engagement to Julie Wohryzek, but continues seeing her.  Returns to work.  Lives at Elli's apartment.   Summer and autumn in Prague, where he writes many short stories. August 8 moves back to his parents' apartment.  August 14-15 meets Milena in Gmünd.   Resumes his literary work after more than three years if inactivity.  Publication of A Country Doctor.   In December, enters the sanatorium at Matliary in the High Tatra until August 1921.

Photographs of Milena (second from left, with friend Staša Jilovská).

 January tries to break off with Milena.  In March Franz Kafka is gravely ill.   Friendship with Robert Klopstock.  Returns to Prague and resumes job at Institute in the autumn.  In October, places all his diaries in Milena's hands after undergoing special treatment.  Milena visits several times during the month of November.

January-February in Spindelmühle, Silesia.  Begins writing The Castle (Das Schloss).  Promotion to first secretary.  Works on stories for  A Hunger Artist (Ein Hungerkünstler).   April - May, Kafka receives several visits from Milena.  June to Planá and retires on medical grounds.   July, he is pensioned by the Institute since he had not worked since October 1921.  Writes " Investigation of a Dog"  August 20, stops work on "The Castle". From end of June to mid-September, with Ottla and her family in Planá on the Luschnitz at their summer home.  October, publication of "A Hunger Artist" in Die Neue Rundschau.
November-December, Kafka is mostly in bed.  December 2, Ludwig Hardt reads works by Kafka in Prague and throughout the month is taking Hebrew lessons from Puah Bentovim.

 Winter - spring, mostly bedridden.  Continues Hebrew lessons and considers emigration to Palestine.  June last meeting with Milena.  Spends July in Müritz on the Baltic coast with Elli and her children.  Meets Dora Diamant returns to Prague via Berlin.  Mid-August-September is with sister, Ottla in Schelesen. September 24  moves to Berlin to live with Dora Diamant. October-December, writes "A Little Woman" ("Eine kleine Frau") and "The Burrow" ("Der Bau").  November 15, moves with Dora to Grunewaldstrasse 13.  November-December, attends lectures at Academy for Jewish Studies.  At the end of December he is bedridden with fever.

Two photographs of Dora Diamant.

February, moves with Dora to Heidestrasse 25-26 in Zehlendorf.  Health declines rapidly.
Back in Prague by March.  Writes "Josephine the Singer" ("Josefine die Sängerin") or the "Mouse Folk". At the end of March, Dora comes to Prague and takes Kafka to Sanatorium Wiener Wald on April 7.  During his stay, Kafka is diagnosed with Tuberculosis of the larynx.  Mid-April, briefly at Professor M. Hajek's clinic in Vienna.  In the company of Dora Diamant and Robert Klopstock, Kafka enters the Hoffmann Sanatorium in Kierling bei Klosterneuburg, on the outskirts of Vienna, during the month of May, Robert Klopstock joins Dora in nursing Kafka.  Kafka corrects part of the galleys of " A Hunger Artist", published in 1924 after his death where he dies on June 3, in his forty-first year in Kierling.  "Josephine" published in the Prager Presse; burial in Prague-Strasnice in the Jewish cemetery.  June 19, memorial service at the Little Theater in Prague.    Final collection of stories are published that summer.

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