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August Strindberg (1849-1912)

Life and work

1849-67
Childhood and adolescence

1849 Johan August Strindberg born in Stockholm on Jan. 22 as the third child of the shipping merchant Carl Oscar Strindberg and his former maid-servant Ulrika Eleonora Norling.

1862 His mother dies of tuberculosis.

1867-74
Student in Upsala, journalist, actor

1867 Studies at Upsala University.

1869 Fails entrance test at the Royal Theatre in Stockholm. Writes his first play.

1870 Returns to Upsala.

1872 Leaves Upsala without a degree. Moves into artistic circles in Stockholm. Journalist. Writes the historical drama Master Olof about the Swedish 16th century reformer.

1874 Appointed assistant librarian at the Royal Library, Stockholm.

1875-82
Librarian. First marriage. Literary breakthrough

1875 Falls in love with the Finno-Swedish baroness Siri von Essen, married to an officer.

1876 Siri divorces and becomes an actress.

1877 Siri von Essen makes her debut at the Royal Dramatic Theatre. Siri and Strindberg marry. Three children born in the marriage: Karin (1880), Greta (1881) and Hans (1884).

1879 Goes bankrupt. Writes the novel The Red Room, Strindberg’s breakthrough as a writer.

1881 Leaves the Royal Library to dedicate himself to writings on cultural history. Master Olof is performed with success.

1883-89
France, Switzerland, Germany, Denmark
Utopian socialist. Marital crisis.

1883 Leaves Sweden. Joins the Scandinavian artist colony at Grez-sur-Loing near Paris. Moves to Switzerland.

1884 Publishes a volume of short stories, Marriage. Faces trial for blasphemy at the City Court of Stocholm. Is acquitted.

1886 Writes The Son of a Servant, an autobiography of social criticism. Takes a series of photographs depicting himself in different ‘roles’.

1887 Matrimonial problems. Writes the tragedy The Father and The People of Hemsö, a naturalistic novel set in the Stockholm archipelago. Begins to write A Madman’s Defence (in French), an account of his marriage.

1888 Lives in Denmark. Writes the naturalistic play Miss Julie, one of the most frecuently performed dramas in the world. Correspondence with Nietzsche. Founds the Scandinavian Experimental Theatre.

1889 Miss Julie is staged by his theatre with Siri von Essen in the title role.

1889-92
In the archipelago and in Stockholm

1889 Strindberg returns to Sweden. Settles in the Stockholm archipelago.

1890 Writes the novel By the Open Sea.

1891 Divorces Siri.

1892-98
Berlin, Austria, Paris, Lund.
Second marriage. Inferno crisis

1892 Leaves Sweden for Berlin, where he moves in the artistic circles of Zum schwarzen Ferkel along with the Norwegian painter Edvard Munch and the polish writer Stanislaw Przybyszewski. Enters a creative crisis which lasts until 1897. Dedicates himself to natural science, painting and photography.

1893 Marries Austrian journalist Frida Uhl. Moves to Fridas family in Austria.

1894 Symbolist painting. Birth of daughter Kerstin. Leaves Frida and settles in Paris. The Inferno crisis begins.

1895 Associates with Paul Gauguin in Monparnasse. Experiments in alchemy. Correspondance with occultist and theosophists. Spiritual conversion. Influenced by Swedenborg.

1896 Begins to write his Occult diary, working on it until 1908.

1897 Writes Inferno in French, a poetic account of his conversion. The crisis is over.

1898 Writes Parts I and II of his dramatic trilogy To Damascus, which was to become the starting-point for the expressionist theatre of the 20th century.

1899-1907
Stockholm and the archipelago. Third mariage

1899 Returns to live in Stockholm for good. Begins to write a series of dramas on subjects from Swidish history, such as Erik XIV (1899) and Charles XII (1901).

1900 Meets actress Harriet Bosse.

1901 Marries Harriet in May. Marital strains. Writes A Dream Play, in which he attempts to "imitate the discnnected but apparently logical form of a dream".

1902 Birth of daughter Anne-Marie.

1903 Parts from Harriet. Writes narrative Alone.

1904 Writes novel Black Banners, a mordant attack on the Cultural Establishment.

1907 Writes four Chamber Plays including The Ghost Sonata and The Pelican. Founds in November the Intimate Theatre.

1908-12
The Blue Tower in Stockholm

1908 Moves to his last home, The "Blue Tower" at No 85, Drottninggatan, Stockholm (now housing the Strindberg Museum). Falls in love with Fanny Falkner, a yong actress at the Intimate Theatre.

1909 Writes his last play, The Great Highway.

1910 His articles on politics, religion and literature in the newspapers Afton- Tidningen and Social-Demokraten result in the "Strindberg Feud", a press feud that lasts for two years.

1912 Hailed on his birthday by a torchlight procession of students and workers. Receives an "Anti-Nobel Prize", a large sum of money raised by national subscription intended to compensate him for not being awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. Dies on May 14.

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