Erich Kästner was born on February 23, 1899, in Dresden. Kästner studied German, history, philosophy, and theater in Leipzig, Rostock, and Berlin from 1920 until 1925. After completing his studies, he worked as an editor for the "Neue Leipziger Zeitung," before moving to Berlin to work as a professional writer.
He quickly made a name for himself with his reviews and essays in periodicals such as the "Vossische Zeitung" and the "Weltbühne" but also with poems, children's books, and acrimonious, critical texts for cabarets.
From 1928 to 1935, Kästner published a series of poetry volumes, which he called "Gebrauchslyrik" ("Poetry of Use") that were in the politically engaged style of "Neue Sachlichkeit" (New Objectivity). His novels are similarly political, for example "Fabian. Die Geschichte eines Moralisten" (1931), a humoristic, satirical critique of the accelerating moral decline of Berlin and the emerging Fascism.
In 1929, he began work on his pedagogical children's books, including "Emil und die Detektive" (1929), "Pünktchen und Anton" (1930), and "Das Fliegende Klassenzimmer" (1932), which gained him an international reputation.
Despite the Nazi's coming to power and the burning of his books in 1933, Kästner remained in Germany and was totally forbidden to write as of 1943.
After 1945, he became the director of the feuilleton of the "Neue Zeitung" in Munich and founded several caberets, including "Die Schaubude" and "Die kleine Freiheit." Kästner's grotesque piece "Die Schule der Diktatoren" (1956) was an attempt to transfer his success to the stage.
From 1957 until 1962, he was the president of the PEN Center of the Federal Republic of Germany. His works have been honored with many awards, including the Literature Prize of the City of Munich (1956), the Georg Büchner Prize (1957), and the Hans Christian Andersen Medal in Luxemburg (1960).
Kästner died on July 29, 1974, in Munich.
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