“Anthroposophy is a path of knowledge aiming to guide the spiritual element in the human being to the spiritual in the universe.”
Rudolf Steiner - Biography
Years 1861 - 1913
Kraljevec - Vienna-Neustadt 1861-1879
Rudolf Steiner was born in Kraljevec (then Austria, today Croatia) on February 27, 1861, as the first child of Franziska and Johann Steiner, from Lower Austria. The family moved several times because of his father’s work, first as a telegrapher and then as a station master with the Austrian South Railway: Mödling in 1862, Pottschach in 1863 and Neudörfl in 1869. Sister Leopoldine was born in 1864; brother Gustav in 1866.
1879 Final school exam with honors.
Vienna 1879 - 1883
Studied at the Technical College, Vienna, initially with the aim of of becoming a secondary school teacher. Main subjects: mathematics, physics, botany, zoology, chemistry, and besides this literature, history and philosophy.
1882 On the recomendation of the Professor of German literature and Goethe specialist, Karl Julius Schröer, was invited to edit Goethe’s
scientific works in Kürschner’s “Deutscher National-Literatur”. Treatise on “The Only Possible Critique of Atomistic Concepts.” Steiner later calls this the basic nerve of his research.
1884 - 1890
Private teacher in the home of a Viennese businessman, Ladislaus Specht. There he also meets the family’s doctor, a famous Viennese internist who is considered to have paved the way for psychoanalysis, Josef Breuer. Steiner’s first volume of Goethe’s scientific writings appears. Volumes II-IV follow
between 1887 and 1897.
Friendship with the poet and later feminist Rosa Mayreder (Kritik der Weiblichkeit) and Friedrich Eckstein (later Anton Bruckner’s secretary and biographer).
Correspondence with the philosopher Eduard von Hartmann. In addition to working on the Goethe edition, numerous articles for various encyclopedias (such as Pierer’s Konversations-Lexikon) on behalf of Joseph Kürschner.
1886 First book, The Science of Knowing. Weimar Archives director Erich Schmidt invites him to contribute to the Sophien edition of Goethe’s works. Treatise on “Nature and Our Ideals.”
1888 Editor of a Viennese weekly, Deutsche Wochenschrift. Numerous articles and commentaries on political events in Austria/Hungary. Lecture on “Goethe as the Father of a New Aesthetics” for Vienna’s Goethe Association.
Weimar 1890 - 1897
Worked at the Goethe and Schiller Archives. Edited some parts of Goethe’s work on natural science which appeared 1891–1896.
Meetings with Hermann Grimm, Ernst Haeckel and Eduard von Hartman, friendship with the poetess Gabriele Reuter, Conrad Ansorge, a pupil of Liszt,
John Henry Kackay, the biographer of Stirmer, Fritz Koegel, Nietzsche’s editor for the Cotta’s Library Edition.
1891-1892 Awarded Dr. Phil. by Prof. Heinrich von Stein at the University of Rostock with his dissertation ‘The basic question of theory of knowledge with special reference to Fichte’s theory of knowledge; introduction to an understanding of philosophcial self-consciousness’, published in 1892 under the title "Truth and Knowledge; introduction to a “Philosophy of Freedom”’ dedicated to Eduard von Hartmann.
1893 His main philosophic work, Intuitive Thinking as a Spiritual Path, appears in autumn.
1894-1896 Visits and works in the Nietzsche Archives in Naumburg. Acquaintance with Elisabeth Förster-Nietzsche, who wants to convince Steiner to co-publish her brother’s works. Encounters with the ailing Nietzsche. Steiner’s Nietzsche monograph, Friedrich Nietzsche, a Fighter Against His Time, appears in 1895.
1897 Steiner sums up his Goethe studies in Goethe’s Worldview.
Berlin 1897 - 1913
Publisher and editor of Magazin für Literatur and Dramaturgischen Blätter, the official organ of the German Stage Union. There and elsewhere, numerous articles on literary and philosophical questions, as well as theater and book reviews.
1898 - 1905 Lectures in the Free Literary Society, Giordano Bruno-Bund and in a writers’ group, Die Kommenden, which Steiner leads after the death of Ludwig Jacobowski. Encounters with Else Lasker-Schüler, Peter Hille, Stefan Zweig, Käthe Kollwitz, Erich Mühsam, Paul Scheerbart, Frank Wedekind and with the Friedrichshagener, among others. Friendship with Ludwig Jacobowski and Otto Erich Hartleben.
1899 Marriage to Anna Eunike, who dies in 1911.
1899 - 1904 Teaches at the school for workers founded by Wilhelm Liebknecht in Berlin. From 1902 also in Spandau. Subjects: History, Speaking Practice, Literature, Science. Encounter with Kurt Eisner and Rosa Luxemburg among others.
1900 The first volume of "Welt- und Lebensanschauungen im neunzehnten Jahrhundert" appears; the second follows one year later. Revised and expanded, This work appears in 1914 under the title, The Riddles of Philosophy. Lectures in the Theosophical Library on Goethe’s Fairy Tale and Nietsche. In autumn, he begins a lecture cycle on mysticism. First encounter with Marie von Sivers, who becomes his closest colleague from 1902 onward. She had trained in the art of recitation at a Paris conservatory and in Dramatic Art in St. Petersburg. She is translator of several works by Edouard Schuré.
1901 - 1902 Mysticism in Modern Thought appears. His second lecture cycle held in the Theosophical Library in 1901/02 also appears, adapted to book form, under the title, Christianity as a Mystical Fact. Steiner becomes a member of the Theosophical Society and General Secretary of the German Section of the Theosophical Society from October 1902 onward.
Encounter with Annie Besant
1902-1904 Teaches at an independent college founded by the Friedrichshageners Bruno Wille and Wilhelm Bölsche.
1902-1912 Together with Marie von Sivers, builds up theosophical lodges inside and outside of Germany. Frequent lecturing activity, both for the public and for members of the Theosophical Society.
Founds, publishes and edits the monthly, Luzifer, later called Lucifer-Gnosis (1903). Certain fundamental works appear there in serial form, such as How to Know Higher Worlds, From the Akasha Chronicle, Theosophy and the Social Question, The Education of the Child and Levels of Higher Knowledge. These appeared later in book form.
Friendship with Christian Morgenstern and Edouard Schuré. Encounter with Wassily Kandinsky.
Each winter, public lecture cycles in Berlin’s Architektenhaus, e.g.: “Origin and Goal of the Human Being,” “Metamorphoses of the Soul,” “Answers of
Spiritual Science to the Great Questions of Existence.”
1904 Theosophy appears, a central anthroposophical work. It is an introduction to supersensible knowledge of the world and human
1907 Directs and produces Schuré’s The Holy Drama of Eleusis, with Marie Steiner in the lead role, as part of a congress of the International Theosophical Society in Munich, organized by him. He also decorates the hall artistically in a way that reveals his future building and art impulse.
1910 Publication of his research into questions concerning cosmology and evolutionary history raised by An Outline of Esoteric Science.
1910-13 Premiere performances of Steiner’s four mystery dramas, directed by him in Munich.
Design for a building (Johannes-Bau) for artistic performances and meetings of the School of Spiritual Science. This project is thwarted by several adjoining owners and the authorities.
Publishes The Spiritual Hierarchies and their Reflection in the Physical World, A Road to Self-Knowledge, The Threshold to the Spiritual World. Anthroposophy, begun in 1910, remains incomplete. Intensive studies of the senses.
1911 First encounter with the Russian writer, Andrej Belyj (St. Petersburg) in Cologne, which has a lasting influence on Belyj’s life and work. In Prague, encounter with Franz Kafka and Hugo Bergmann.
Begins to develop a new art of movement called eurythmy. First eurythmy course in Bottmingen, Switzerland in autumn. During the following years, develops eurythmy into a stage art together with Marie von Sivers.
1912-13 Separation from the Theosophical Society and founding of the Anthroposophical Society.
Lectures in various cities inside and outside of Germany on Reincarnation and Karma, the Gospels, Life Between Death and Rebirth, History of the
Mysteries, Teaching of the Senses, History of Evolution, etc. Builds up anthroposophical branches inside and outside of Germany together with Marie von Sivers.