1903

Melanie’s husband, Arthur Klein in 1896.

Still in mourning for her brother, Melanie Reizes marries Arthur Klein on 31st March, the day after her 21st birthday. They set up their home together in Rosenberg, close to Arthur’s family. In May, she discovers that she is pregnant.


1904

Melanie gives birth to her first child, Melitta on 19th January.


1905

Melanie, Arthur and baby Melitta make a trip to the Adriatic coast, visiting a number of places including Trieste and Venice.

Freud publishes Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality.


Photograph of Melanie, her mother and her baby daughter
Melanie Klein, her mother Libussa, and her baby daughter Melitta, around 1905-6.

1906

In the spring, Melanie accompanies Arthur to an engineering congress in Rome.

After four years of persevering, with the help of her friend Irma Schonfeld, Melanie finally succeeds in publishing an unfinished manuscript written by her brother Emmanuel. She was always convinced of his brilliance and creative potential, and believed he would have done great things if he had lived.


1907

Melanie Klein around 1907.

On 2nd March, Melanie gives birth to her second child and first son, Hans, after struggling through a deep depression during the pregnancy.

Late in 1907, the Kleins move to Krappitz, a small provincial town in upper Silesia (now Krapkowice, southwestern Poland), where Arthur has been appointed director of a paper mill.

Not long after their relocation, Melanie’s mother Libussa, by now widowed and living alone, moves in with them.


1908

Photograph of Melanie Klein's home in Krappitz, around 1907
The house in Krappitz, where Melanie Klein lived for some time between 1907 and 1909.

Melanie becomes increasingly anxious and depressed, clearly very unhappy with her married life in this small, unfamiliar town. She goes away often, visiting friends and family, and making trips to Budapest and Abbazia, to try to alleviate her unhappiness.

She also receives treatment – such as carbonic acid baths – for her “nerves”. As a result, she spends long periods of time apart from her young children, encouraged by her mother in a series of what can seem like rather guilt-inducing and interfering letters.

Meanwhile, in this year Freud meets Hungarian psychoanalyst Sándor Ferenczi. The two men begin an important professional and personal relationship, recorded in more than 1,200 letters exchanged over the course of their careers. Ferenczi is to have an enormous effect on Klein, as her first analyst and professional supporter, and as her friend.


1909

Photograph of Melanie Klein with her children Hans and Melitta around 1908
Melanie Klein with her son, Hans and baby daughter, Melitta, around 1908.

In May, in a state of severe depression, Melanie visits a sanatorium in Chur, an alpine town in eastern Switzerland. In June she moves a little further south, to St Moritz. She is experiencing problems with her bladder. In a letter from her mother, there is a suggestion that Melanie might be pregnant again, something she dreads.

In November, the Kleins and Libussa move to Svabhegy, a suburb of Budapest, Hungary.

Freud publishes his study of 5-year-old ‘Little Hans,’ the first such psychoanalytic observation of a child. The analysis is carried out by the boy’s father, according to detailed directions from Freud.


1910

Photograph of Melanie Klein with her children Hans and Melitta, around 1908
Melanie Klein with her daughter, Melitta and son, Hans, around 1908.

In the new surroundings of Budapest, Melanie spends much of her time with Jolanthe Vágó, Arthur’s sister, and Klara, Jolanthe’s divorced sister-in-law. She grows very close to these two women, especially Klara.

Melanie spends the summer with Klara in Rügen, a holiday resort to the north of Berlin, on the Baltic Sea.

Karl Abraham, a close friend and colleague of Freud, and a major figure in the early development of psychoanalysis, establishes the Berlin Psychoanalytic Society. Abraham will later analyse Klein and become very important to her, both by analysing her emotional difficulties, and by influencing and encouraging her in developing her own psychoanalytic theories.


1911

Photograph of Melanie and Arthur Klein with Melitta and Hans, around 1909.
Melanie and Arthur Klein with Melitta and Hans, around 1909.

In August the Kleins move to Rozsdamb, a more affluent area of Budapest. Once again, Melanie spends her summer holiday in Rügen with Klara.


1912

Melanie writes to her mother, who is staying temporarily in Vienna, that she is feeling better, in fact that she is “quite healthy.” She refers to a “treatment” she has been having, though she does not refer to its nature. It is likely psychological, perhaps even psychoanalytical.


1913

Photograph of Melanie Klein in about 1912
Melanie Klein in about 1912.

Around Christmas 1913, Klein finds she is pregnant once again.


1914

After another pregnancy through which she suffers with deep depression, Klein gives birth to her third child, Erich, on 1st July. Two weeks later, on the 28th July 1914, the First World War breaks out. Both Arthur Klein and Melanie’s brother-in-law Leo Pick are subsequently called up to fight.

Klein begins analysis with Sándor Ferenczi, a Hungarian psychoanalyst intimate with Freud and instrumental in the growth of psychoanalysis. For the first time in Klein’s life, she is able to talk about her emotional experiences and be listened to by a highly intelligent, attentive, perceptive audience of one. This encounter with Ferenczi marks a watershed in her life.

Painting of analyst Sandor Ferenczi from 1923
Painting of Sandor Ferenczi from 1923.

At some point during this year, Klein reads Freud’s On Dreams (‘Über den Traum,’ 1901). She is filled with intense excitement about the insights and possibilities revealed by Freud, and is soon devoted to pursuing psychoanalysis: both as a patient and a future practitioner.

In October Ferenczi is called up to serve as a doctor to the Hungarian Hussars, though he continues to be analysed by Freud by post. He carries out some analyses himself, both in the army and on return visits to Budapest.

Toward the end of October, the Kleins take Libussa to be X-rayed following a drastic loss of weight. Cancer is ruled out by the doctor. However, she rapidly develops bronchitis and, on 6th November, Melanie Klein’s mother dies.


Photograph of Melanie Klein around 1912
Melanie Klein around 1912.

1916

Arthur Klein is invalided back home with a leg wound. Ferenczi also returns to Budapest, having been transferred to a neurological hospital.


1917

Freud’s famous essay, ‘Mourning and Melancholia’ published. Klein will later develop her radical ideas about manic-depressive states, as well as her seminal concept of the depressive position, out of Freud’s account of aggression and guilt as central to the experience of the melancholic patient.


1918

On 28th and 29th September, Melanie Klein attends the Fifth Psychoanalytic Congress at the Hungarian Academy of Sciences in Budapest. She hears Freud read his paper ‘Lines of Advance in Psychoanalytic Therapy’, which further fuels her fascination with psychoanalysis. This is almost certainly the first time Klein hears Freud read his work in person, and will be one of the only times. For Klein this is an extraordinary moment, as she comes face to face with the brilliant and deeply revered founder of psychoanalysis.

In the autumn, the Austro-Hungarian Empire dissolves as its monarchy collapses. The First World War ends on the 11th November 1918, after more than four years of savage fighting and millions of lives damaged and lost.


1919

Colourful drawing by one of Klein's child patients
Drawing by one of Klein’s child patients.

In July Klein presents her study of her five-year-old son Erich to the Hungarian Psychoanalytic Society; it is her first study of a child. She is soon afterward awarded membership.

Arthur Klein leaves Budapest and his family for Sweden in autumn 1919, as the anti-Semitic White Terror takes hold of Hungary. The Hungarian Psychoanalytic movement is all but destroyed by this ferocious counterrevolutionary anti-Semitism. Melanie also leaves Budapest, taking her three children to stay with Arthur’s parents in Rosenberg. Besides the political turmoil, the Kleins’ marriage is in crisis; it is clear they are increasingly unhappy together.


1920

In September, Klein attends the first International Congress since the war, which is held in The Hague. She meets British psychoanalyst Joan Riviere for the first time.

Freud publishes Beyond the Pleasure Principlein which he introduces his bold new idea of the ‘death instinct’ (‘Todestrieb‘). This concept – controversial from day one – is to play a significant part in the development of Klein’s own theories, particularly in relation to her ideas about sadism and ego-splitting in the young child.


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