Ödön von Horváth was born on December 9, 1901 as son of Hungarian diplomat Dr. Edmund Josef Horváth and Maria Hermine Prehnal in Susak near Fiume/Hungary (now Rijeka/Croatia). He went to school in Budapest, Munich, Bratislava and Vienna, also started studying German in Munich. He starts publishing parts of his work in 1922, his early plays show his interest in the political history of Germany. During the increasing support for the Nazionalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei (German Nazi Party) in the 1920s he also advised against fascism.
In 1931 his most important plays "Italienische Nacht" (Italian night) and "Geschichten aus dem Wienerwald" (Tales from the Vienna woods), dealing with the problems of growing-up, sexuality and the role of women at the beginning of the 20th century, are performed. He earns the Kleist-Price for the second mentioned. After the coming into power of the Nazis in 1933 Horváth moves from Munich to Vienna, continuing to write novels, his book "Jugend ohne Gott" (Youth without God), which is aimed against dictatorships is published. After the "Anschluss" (annexation) of Austria in 1938 he emmigrated to Paris/France. On June 1, 1938 Horváth was killed when promenading the Champs-Élysées during a storm - he was struck dead by a broken branch (It is said that Viennese tend to be very morbid - pointers to this ridiculous mode of passing are therefor often used by Austrian cabaret artists).
His most famous plays are:
- Revolte auf Côte 3018 (Revolt on the Côte 3018, 1926)
- Zur schönen Aussicht (To the nice view, 1926)
- Italienische Nacht (Italian night, 1931)
- Geschichten aus dem Wiener Wald (Tales from the Vienna woods, 1931)
- Kasimir und Karoline (Kasimir and Caroline, 1932)
- Glaube Liebe Hoffnung (Belief, love, hope, 1933)
- Hin und Her (There and back, 1934)
- Mit dem Kopf durch die Wand (With the head through the wall, 1935)
- Liebe, Pflicht und Hoffnung (Love, duty and hope, 1936)
- Figaro lässt sich scheiden (Figaro gets divorced, 1937)
- Ein Dorf ohne Männer (A village without men, 1937)
- Der jüngste Tag (Judgement day, 1937)