Bertolt Brecht was born on February 10, 1898 in Augsburg, Germany. His first poems, heavily influenced by Rimbaud and Verlaine, were published at age 16. He served as an orderly in the German army during the First World War, but by its end was deeply disenchanted, not only with the war, but also with society in general. His first play, Baal, was written in 1918 in response to Hanns Johst's tragedy, The Lonely Man. Drums in the Night followed this in 1920. During this period, he was writing a good deal of poetry and music as well. Poetry was easy for him, like breathing, and so drama was the more noble cause.
Brecht was a regular in the cabaret acts of Trude Hesterberg and Karl Valentin in the early 1920s in Munich. In 1922 Drums in the Night had its Munich premier, and then played at the Deutsches Theatre in Berlin. He was awarded the Kleist Prize for this play, and at twenty-four years of age, achieved national recognition and critical acclaim as a playwright and poet.
Brecht was far from his peak. In 1924, he moved to Berlin, where he continued to write, collaborating with the great German composer, Kurt Weill, on The Threepenny Opera, The Rise & Fall of the City of Mahagonny, and The Seven Deadly Sins. During this creative period he also wrote his first two notebooks of Versuche and began his theoretical writings, which he would continue to the end of his life.
In 1933, he went into exile due to the rise of the Nazis. Brecht was number five on Hitler's blacklist, partly because of a song he had written, The Ballad of the Dead Soldier, which appears in Drums in the Night. He moved to Denmark, where he wrote, among other things, The Threepenny Novel, The Roundheads and the Peakheads, The Good Person of Sezuan, and two of his masterpieces, Galileo and Mother Courage and Her Children.
In 1941, the Nazis invaded Denmark, and Brecht moved to Finland and then to America with his wife, the actress Helene Wiegel, where he worked b...