Franz Kafka Born
Franz Kafka is born in Prague, Bohemia (now called the Czech Republic). He is the first of six children for Hermann and Julie Lowy Kafka, middle-class Jewish parents.
Kafka attends the German-language elementary school in Prague. All of his education takes place at German-speaking schools.
Kafka enrolls at Charles-Ferdinand University, a German-speaking university in Prague. After two weeks as a chemistry major, he switches to law. Kafka flourishes in the university's literary clubs and meets fellow writers (and lifelong friends) like Max Brod.
Kafka receives his law degree from Charles-Ferdinand. He spends a year as an unpaid intern in the criminal courts.
Kafka accepts his first job as a clerk at Assicurazioni Generali, an Italian insurance company in Prague. The job is boring, and his night shift makes it hard to keep up with his writing. Kafka hates it.
Kafka resigns from the insurance agency. Two weeks later, he finds work at a government job handling workers' compensation insurance. His first published short stories appear in Hyperion magazine.
Interest in Writing and in Judaism
Kafka begins a period of exploration into his Jewish identity, as well as his literary vocation. He attends lectures and theater performances that focus on Jewish issues and writes intensely. He begins his novel Amerika.
Kafka helps his brother-in-law run an asbestos factory in Prague.
Meets Future Fiancee
Kafka meets a woman named Felice Bauer at the home of his friend Max Brod. The two develop a romantic relationship conducted mostly by mail. Kafka writes her more than 500 letters during their five-year relationship.
Kafka's first book, an anthology of his short stories entitled Contemplation, is published.
Kafka publishes the short stories "The Judgment" and "The Stoker."
Kafka writes the novel The Trial, about a man persecuted for an unknown crime. It is not published until after his death.
Kafka proposes to Felice Bauer, but breaks off the engagement just three months later. They rekindle their relationship the following year.
Kafka publishes his most famous work, the novella Metamorphosis. The story, in which the main character wakes up to find himself transformed into an insect, becomes a classic analogy of alienation and displacement.
Kafka and Felice Bauer become engaged for a second time.
Kafka begins coughing up blood, the first symptom of the tuberculosis that will eventually claim his life. He takes a leave of absence from his work while his sister Ottilie takes care of him.
Cancels Wedding, Again
Kafka breaks off his engagement to Felice Bauer for the second and last time.
Attempts to Heal
Kafka stays in a sanitorium north of Prague, hoping to recover from his tuberculosis. He becomes engaged to a woman named Julie Wohryzková, though that relationship also ends. After his father Hermann expresses disapproval of the engagement, Kafka writes the missive, aptly entitled Letter to His Father, to address their troubled relationship.
Keeps Writing, Health Declines
Kafka's condition worsens, and he moves to a sanitorium in Italy. He continues his writing, publishing the short story collection A Country Doctor. He begins another romantic relationship over letters with a married Czech journalist named Milena Jesenská.
Kafka begins writing the novel The Castle. By August, however, his health has declined to the point where he must set aside the book and retire from writing. He writes to his friend and literary executor, Max Brod, asking him to burn all of his papers after his death, save for a few selected stories.
Kafka takes a holiday to the Baltic Sea, where he meets a Polish woman, Dora Diamant. The two fall in love, and their relationship lasts until Kafka's death. He is able to write a few more short stories.
Franz Kafka Dies
Franz Kafka dies of complications from tuberculosis at his home in Prague at the age of 40. He is buried in the Jewish cemetery in Prague.
Having ignored Kafka's instructions to destroy his papers, Max Brod ushers into publication a short story collection entitled The Hunger Artist. Many more posthumous stories, novels and letters follow, giving Kafka the literary fame in death that he never had during his life.
The Trial Published
Kafka's novel The Trial is published.
Kafka's novel The Castle is published.
Kafka's novel Amerika is published.
The journals and notebooks that Kafka's lover, Dora Diamant, kept against his wishes are confiscated from her apartment during a Gestapo raid. Despite an extensive international search, the papers have never been found.