1926

Klein's invitation to Sigmund Freud's 70th birthday party in Berlin
Klein’s invitation to Sigmund Freud’s 70th birthday party in Berlin.

The London Clinic for Psychoanalysis opens on 6th May, Sigmund Freud’s 70th birthday.

In September, at the invitation of Ernest Jones, Klein moves permanently to London. She breaks off with her lover Kloetzel (though he is to visit her several times over the next few years), and begins analyses of Jones’ wife and two children between 15th September and 4th October.

On 17th November, Klein gives a paper before the British Psychoanalytic Society on five-year-old ‘Peter,’ with reference to the castration complex and anal-sadistic phantasy.

Her son Erich joins her in London on 27th December, three months after her arrival. She now has six patients in addition to the Jones family.


A drawing of Melanie Klein by one of her patients in 1926.
A drawing of Melanie Klein by one of her child patients in 1926.

1927

On 19th March, Anna Freud addresses the Berlin Society on the subject of child analytic technique. Her presentation is a barely disguised attack on Klein’s approach to psychoanalysis and her theories about child analysis. In response, Ernest Jones organises a symposium for the British Society on the same topic. Sigmund Freud is unhappy with what he sees as an attack on his daughter and, perhaps by extension, himself.

At the beginning of September, Klein attends the 10th International Congress, held in Innsbruck, Austria. She delivers a paper, ‘Early Stages of the Oedipus Complex,’ her most radical conceptual offering to date. She is elected a member of the British Psychoanalytical Society on 2nd October.


1928

Photograph of Klein's daughter Melitta and her husband Walter Schmideberg
Klein’s daughter Melitta with her husband Walter Schmideberg.

Melitta Schmideberg, Klein’s eldest child and only daughter, comes to London after graduating from university in Berlin. Like her mother she is now pursuing a career in psychoanalysis, and by 1930 she will be a member of the British Society.

Melitta moves in with her mother and brother Erich, while her husband Walter remains in Germany for a further four years.


1929

Klein begins analysis of ‘Dick,’ a four-year-old boy, seemingly struggling with schizophrenia. His condition has since been re-described as infantile autism. This analysis, and the paper to which it leads the following year, forms a key moment in Klein’s development of her ideas about early psychosis and its relation to aggression and guilt.


1930

On 5th February, Klein presents a paper based on her work with her child patient ‘Dick’, ‘The Importance of Symbol-Formation in the Development of the Ego’, to the British Society. It forms a hugely important stage in her psychoanalytic thinking. In this seminal paper, Klein asserts that the child’s capacity for symbol formation, and more broadly for the formulation of thought, are vital elements in the healthy development of the ego. This paper is truly innovative, and opens the way to a better understanding of psychotic states.


Letter from Ernest Jones to Klein (1932) on the publication of The Psychoanalysis of Children
Letter from Ernest Jones to Klein (1932) on the publication of The Psychoanalysis of Children.

1931

Klein takes on her first training analysand, Dr W. Clifford M. Scott, a medical graduate from Toronto, Canada.


1932

Klein’s first major theoretical work, The Psycho-Analysis of Children, is published simultaneously in English by Hogarth Press (set up by Virginia and Leonard Woolf), and in German by the Internationaler Psychoanalytischer Verlag. In the book she lays the foundations for her later innovations of the paranoid-schizoid and depressive positions.


1933

Photograph of psychoanalyst Sandor Ferenczi
Sandor Ferenczi in 1919.

On 22nd May Sándor Ferenczi dies of pernicious anaemia, at the age of 59.

Klein moves to 42 Clifton Hill, St. John’s Wood. Paula Heimann, fleeing Nazi Germany, moves to London, and becomes Klein’s secretary. She subsequently enters analysis with Klein.

Melitta is elected member of the Institute of Psychoanalysis on 18th October. Previously an exponent of her mother’s theoretical position, Melitta becomes increasingly antagonistic toward her, mounting regular, unsparing attacks against her ideas and methodology in Society meetings.

Kloetzel moves to Palestine at the end of the year, as anti-Semitism rages ever more violently through Europe. Klein will never see him again.


1934

Photograph of Klein's son Hans as a child
Klein’s eldest son Hans as a young boy.

At the beginning of the year, Klein starts seeing Sylvia Payne once a week for treatment of a bout of intense depression.

Melitta begins analysis with Edward Glover, after having been previously analysed by Ella Sharpe. They become close allies against Klein in the on-going British Society infighting.

In April, Melanie’s eldest son Hans dies when a path gives way under his feet, during a hiking trip through the Tatra Mountains. He is 27. Melanie does not attend his funeral in Budapest, apparently too devastated and shocked to make the journey.

Klein reads the first version of her seminal paper, ‘The Psychogenesis of Manic-Depressive States’ at the Lucerne Congress in August.


Advertisement for a series of lectures at Caxton Hall given by Klein, Joan Riviere and Sylvia Payne
Advertisement for a series of lectures at Caxton Hall given by Klein, Joan Riviere and Sylvia Payne.

1935

On 16th January, Klein reads a reworked version of her 1934 Congress paper, ‘A Contribution to the Psychogenesis of Manic-Depressive States’ to the British Society. The paper expounds her radical, brilliant new concept, the depressive position.

Donald Winnicott, a paediatrician and recently qualified psychoanalyst, begins analysis of Klein’s youngest child Erich, at her request.

In Germany on 15th September, the Nuremberg Laws are passed at the annual Nazi party rally. Jews are stripped of citizenship, the right to hold influential professional positions, and the right to marry ‘Aryans.’


1936

In February Klein delivers her paper, ‘Weaning’ as part of a public lecture series at Caxton Hall. It will later be published as part of Love, Guilt and Reparation, and Other Works: 1921-1945.


Image of Klein's 1937 paper titled 'Play'
Title page of Klein’s paper, ‘Play’ given at the Inter-Clinic Conference in 1937.

1937

On 19th March, Melitta Schmideberg reads her paper, ‘After the Analysis – Some Phantasies of Patients’, a searing attack on Kleinian analytic technique and theory.

Klein goes into hospital in July for an operation on her gall bladder. She writes ‘Observations after an Operation’ following the experience, detailing her emotional reactions to undergoing general anaesthetic and invasive surgery, and reflects upon being returned to a state of childlike dependency.

She spends August recuperating in Devon with Erich and his new wife, Judy. In September, she takes a rare holiday in Italy.

Klein and Joan Riviere jointly present the paper, ‘Love, Guilt and Reparation’ based on a previous public lecture.


1938

Photograph of pages from Melanie Klein's diary from 1938
Pages from Melanie Klein’s diary from 1938.

Emilie and Leo Pick, Klein’s sister and brother-in-law, arrive in England as refugees from Vienna which has just been annexed by the Nazis. They move into a flat around the corner from Klein.

Sigmund and Anna Freud flee Vienna after the Nazis invade Austria in March. They arrive in London on 6th June. They are just two of a flood of refugee psychoanalysts forced to flee Nazi Germany and Austria. The effect this influx has on the British Psychoanalytical Society is profound.

On the night of 9th-10th November, Nazi supporters and SA stormtroopers vandalise and destroy Jewish shops, homes, schools and synagogues across Germany and Austria, as well as killing, beating and arresting Jews. This horrific pogrom destroys hundreds of synagogues and thousands of businesses, and results in the deportation of thousands of Jewish people to concentration camps. It will become known as Kristallnacht (‘Night of Broken Glass’).


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