Philosopher. He was named after King Frederick William IV of Prussia, on whose forty-ninth birthday he was born. His father was a Lutheran pastor and former teacher. After his father's death in 1849, his family went to live with his maternal grandmother and two of his father's unmarried sisters in Naumburg. When his grandmother died in 1856, the family moved into their own house. While in Naumburg, young Friedrich had been making a name for himself as a bright student, particularly in the fields of language and music. Because of his rare talents, he was able to attend the prestigious Schulpforta school. He was a student there from 1858 till 1864. Upon graduation, Nietzsche enrolled at the University of Bonn to study theology and classical philology. However, over his mother's objections, he switched entirely to classical philology after only one semester, stopping his theological studies. The next year he transferred to the University of Leipzig, and shortly thereafter began publishing his writings on philology. In 1865 he was exposed to the work of Artur Schopenhauer, and in 1866 became acquainted with the work of Friedrich Albert Lange. His discovery of these philosophers had a profound impact upon his own way of thinking. He realized that he did not have to limit his studies to philology, and that he didn't have to continue attending the university. In 1867, he served as a volunteer in the Prussian artillery in Naumburg, though his intended year of service was never finished. In March of 1868, he was in a serious riding accident which made him unfit for the military. After this accident he went back to school and finished up his studies. In 1869, with support from Friedrich Wilhelm Ritschl, one of his professors, he was offered a position as professor of classical philology at the University of Basel, even though he had not yet received a doctoral degree or even a teaching certificate. He accepted the offer and after moving to Basel renounced his Prussian citizenship. For the remainder of his life he officially had stateless status, though he did serve as a medical orderly on the side of Prussia during the Franco-Prussian War. Among the many prestigious people he closely associated with during this time were the theologian Franz Overbeck, the historian Jacob Burkhardt, and the composer Richard Wagner. In 1872, his first book, 'The Birth of Tragedy Out of the Spirit of Music,' was published, though it wasn't well-received by his colleagues. Between 1873 and 1876, he published four essays, 'David Strauss: The Confessor and the Writer,' 'On the Use and Abuse of History for Life,' 'Schopenhauer as Educator,' and 'Richard Wagner in Bayreuth,' essays which he later published in a volume entitled 'Untimely Meditations.' During this time he had begun to distance himself from the philosophy of Wagner and Schopenhauer, a distancing which was evident by the time of the publication of his 1878 book 'Human, All-Too-Human,' a collection of aphorisms on many different subjects. The next year, owing to ill health, he had to resign his professorship. He travelled to many different cities to try to find a more suitable climate for his health, and kept busy by writing and publishing books until 1888, among them his most famous volume, 'Thus Spoke Zarathustra.' These books contained the cornerstones of his philosophy, such as a belief in nihilism, the theory of the herd instinct, the idea of the "superman," the importance of individuality, Social Darwinism, and the concept of the "will to power." However, since he had grown far apart from the philosophy of Schopenhauer and severed his ties to his influential friends, his books were increasingly poorly-received by the public. He was eventually forced to begin publishing his books at his own expense, and the public's awareness of and interest in his work was very slow in coming. Nietzsche overestimated the small but growing critical response to his writing, and in 1888 was inspired to write his autobiography, 'Ecco Homo: How One Becomes What One Is,' which wasn't published until 1908. In early 1889, he suffered a mental breakdown and was initially sent to a psychiatric clinic in Basel. He was later taken to a clinic in Jena on his mother Franziska's orders, but he failed to improve and was eventually released to his mother's house and put under her care. While he was being treated for his psychiatric problems, some of his friends were gathering together his previously unreleased works and having them published. It was at this time that he finally began to gain recognition and critical acclaim. In 1893 his sister Elisabeth came back to Germany from Paraguay after her husband committed suicide, and helped with collecting and publishing her brother's writings. After the death of their mother in 1897, Nietzsche lived with her in Weimar. He died at the age of fifty-five after contracting pneumonia.
Bio by: Carrie-Anne