Notes on Earlier Biographies of Rudolf Steiner

The main source used for the first six chapters of the book was Steiner’s own autobiography, published under the title of The Course of my Life, an exact translation of Mein Lebensgang. This book, translated by Olin D. Wannamaker, appeared in a second edition in 1951 (New York: Anthroposophic Press). More recently a new translation by Rita Stebbing was published in an edition that appeared in 1977 from Rudolf Steiner Publications, Blauvelt, New York. This edition contained over six hundred footnotes written by Paul Marshall Allen, many of which were of considerable use to me in writing this biography. The title of this version was simply Rudolf Steiner, an Autobiography. Of almost equal importance to a student of Steiner’s life is Guenther Wachsmuth, The Life and Work of Rudolf Steiner (New York: Whittier Press, 1955) translated by Olin D. Wannamaker and Reginald E. Raab. This book gives a year by year account of Steiner’s life and work from 1900 to his death, and thus supplements the autobiography in an exemplary manner. Wachsmuth acted as Steiner’s secretary for the last years of his life and much of his book is based on first hand knowledge.

Other biographies in English are A.P. Shepherd, A Scientist of the Invisible, of which only about a quarter is devoted to Steiner’s life, the remainder being concerned with his teachings (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1954, many times re-printed). Frans Carlgren, Rudolf Steiner, 1861-1925 is a rather slight but very valuable work, constituting a more or less official biography directed to the general public (Dornach: School of Spiritual Science, Second Edition, 1964). Johannes Hemleben, Rudolf Steiner, a Documentary Biography (East Grinstead: Henry Goulden Ltd, 1975) is a translation (by Leo Twyman) of a book which was extremely successful in its original German edition published by Rowohlt of Hamburg in 1963. The book is much stronger in the first part, that part of Steiner’s life covered by his autobiography, than it is in the later chapters which are somewhat sketchy. The author is a Christian Community priest and as might be expected it is particularly strong on the material concerned with Christianity.

Another book by a Christian Community priest, the founder of the Christian Community, is Friedrich Rittelmeyer, Rudolf Steiner Enters my Life (London Christian Community Press, 1954). The book is a first hand and often very vivid account of Rittelmeyer’s association with Rudolf Steiner.

Perhaps the most complete of the biographies to which I have had access is Simone Rihouët-Coroze, Biographie de Rudolf Steiner (Paris: Triades, 1973), a well documented account of Steiner’s life in 393 pages. Again the first half of the life is handled much more fully than the second. But both parts are dealt with effectively and the documentation is far from being confined to the autobiography.






Rudolf Steiner: Herald of a New Epoch