People of Germany: Thomas Mann (1875-1955) was a German novelist, short story writer, social critic, philanthropist, essayist, and the 1929 Nobel Prize in Literature laureate. His highly symbolic and ironic epic novels are noted for their insight into the psychology of the artist and the intellectual. His analysis and critique of the European and German soul used modernized German and biblical stories, as well as the ideas of Goethe, Nietzsche, and Schopenhauer. He was a member of the Hanseatic Mann family and portrayed his family & class in his first novel, Buddenbrooks. His older brother was the radical writer Heinrich Mann. 3 of his 6 children, Erika, Klaus, and Golo, also became important writers.
Thomas Mann was born to a bourgeois family in Lübeck, 2nd son of a senator and grain merchant and his wife Júlia da Silva Bruhns (a Brazilian of German and Portuguese ancestry who came to Germany at age 7). His mother was Roman Catholic but Mann was baptized into his father’s Lutheran religion. His father died in 1891, the firm was liquidated, and the family moved to Munich. Mann attended the science division of a Lübeck school, then spent time at the Ludwig Maximillians University and the Technical University of Munich where, in preparation for a journalism career, he studied history, economics, art history, and literature. He lived in Munich from 1891-1933 and spent a year in Italy. In 1905, he married Katia Pringsheim, daughter of a wealthy, secular Jewish industrialist family. She later joined the Lutheran church. The couple had 6 children.