Paul Thomas Mann was born on June 6, 1875 in Lübeck. He attended school in Lübeck, but the family moved permanently to Munich in 1893. In the following year, Mann did his voluntary service with the South German Fire Insurance Company, but he was let go after a few months. Mann enrolled to audit classes at the Technical Hochschule in Munich, with the intention of becoming a journalist. At this time, Mann released his first text "Fallen."
In 1896-97, he began work on his novel "Buddenbrooks," which appeared in 1901. From 1899 on, Thomas Mann started working as editor for the satire magazine "Simplicissimus." The novella "Tonio Kröger" appeared in 1903. The first edition of "Buddenbrooks" received only sporadic interest, but the second printing in 1903 brought the needed breakthrough, which made Thomas Mann known as a writer. In 1904, Mann met his future wife, Katharina Pringsheim, and married her in 1905. Although he was already aware of his homosexual tendencies, which were never acted out during his life but were amply recorded in diaries, notes, and literary works, he decided for a bourgeois life with Katharina.
In the 1915 essay "Thoughts in War," Thomas Mann took a clear position in favor of the war. This ended the already difficult relationship between the brothers Mann, and after that, Heinrich Mann cut off contact with Thomas. A year after his mother's death in 1923, Thomas Mann released his novel "The Magic Mountain" on which he had begun work as early as 1913. In 1929, the writer received the Nobel Prize for Literature for his novel "Buddenbrooks."
In 1933, the Manns traveled to Holland, ultimately having to flee from the Nazis. In 1934, the first volume of the Joseph tetralogy, "The Tales of Jacob," appeared, followed shortly by the second volume, "The Young Joseph." In the years from 1934 to 1936, Mann had traveled several times to the U.S., and, in that year, he took Czechoslovakian citizenship. Also in that year, the third Joseph volume, "Joseph in Egypt," was published. The title of honorary doctor was bestowed upon Mann by Columbia University in New York, and soon afterwards, he settled in the United States.
In 1940, he began his monthly radio programs to Germany. Three years later, he finished his Joseph tetralogy with "Joseph the Provider." The writer became an American citizen in 1944.
He planned to return to Europe after the end of the war, but a lung operation delayed his plans. He traveled back to Europe in 1947, but soon returned to the States. His novel "Doktor Faustus" appeared at this time. After 1949, Mann received many honorary doctorates from such universities as Oxford, Lund, Cambridge, and Jena, and also the Nobel Prize for Literature.
Moreover, he received the Goethe Prize from the city of Frankfurt, and the city of Lübeck recognized him as an honorary citizen. In 1952, the writer finally returned to Europe, settling in Erlenbach, Switzerland. His relationship to Germany remained ambiguous. Two years later he began work on "Confessions of Felix Krull Confidence Man," which would remain a fragment.
In July 1955, he suffered from thrombosis and passed away on August 12, 1955 in Zurich.