1945

Photograph of Melanie Klein with her granddaughter Diana, around 1945
Melanie Klein with her granddaughter Diana, around 1945.

Melitta Schmideberg leaves the UK, now separated from her husband Walter, and moves to New York. She will live there until 1961, working with delinquent adolescents.

Klein spends August on a farm with her daughter-in-law, Judy and her grandchildren, Michael and Diana.


1946

On 4th December, Klein gives her paper, ‘Notes on Some Schizoid Mechanisms’ to the British Psychoanalytical Society. This is one of the most important works of her career, and a pivotal moment in the development of psychoanalysis, as she details the concepts of ego-splitting and projective identification.

After much debate within the British Society, the ‘A’ and ‘B’ groups, and what becomes known as the ‘Middle Group’, are at last established. Their creation is an urgent means of resolving the on-going and irreconcilable differences between the Anna Freudians and Kleinians. The bitter arguments that have threatened to tear apart the Society for the past several years are now at least partly assuaged, and it looks like it will survive.


1947

Photograph of Melanie Klein, Anna Freud and Ernest Jones around 1948
Melanie Klein, Anna Freud and Ernest Jones, with a kitten, around 1948.

John Rickman, a British psychoanalyst who has previously been in analysis with Freud, Ferenczi and Klein, is elected president of the British Society.

As a member of the ‘Middle Group’ – neither Anna Freudian nor Kleinian – Rickman’s appointment is a deliberate effort to preserve some neutrality in the government of the Society.


Photograph of Susan Isaacs in 1933
Photograph of Susan Isaacs in 1933. Inscription reads: ‘With much love to Melanie – 1947’.

1948

Susan Isaacs dies of cancer on 12th October at the age of 63. Her contributions to psychoanalysis, greatly influenced by Klein’s thinking, will go on to have a far-reaching impact, particularly on theories of early education and child development.


1949

At the 16th Psychoanalytic Congress in Zurich, Klein sees her daughter Melitta for the first time in four years. They do not speak.


1951

Photograph of Melanie Klein Melanie Klein at the French Congress in 1950
Melanie Klein at the French Congress in 1950.

To mark Klein’s 70th birthday, her colleagues and friends publish Developments in Psychoanalysis, including essays by Heimann, Isaacs, Riviere, Klein herself, and several others.

Klein’s former lover, Chezkel Zvi Kloetzel dies on 27th October. She has not seen him for many years.


1952

Ernest Jones organises a dinner at Kettner’s (29 Romilly St, Soho) to celebrate Klein’s 70th birthday.

Photograph of Klein's 70th birthday dinner, 1952
Photograph of Klein’s 70th birthday dinner at Kettner’s, Soho in 1952.

In photograph, clockwise from left: [sitting] Marion Milner, Sylvia Payne, Eric Klein, Roger Money-Kyrle, Clifford Scott, Paula Heimann, James Strachey, Gwen Evans, [unknown], Michael Balint, Judy Klein (wife of Eric Klein); [standing] Melanie Klein, Ernest Jones, Herbert Rosenfeld, Joan Riviere, Donald Winnicott.


1953

Photograph of Melanie Klein's home around 1959
Melanie Klein’s home at 20 Bracknell Gardens, London around 1959.

After a period of illness and dizzy spells (and a brief time spent in hospital), apparently caused by exhaustion and overwork, Klein sells her house on Clifton Hill and moves to a smaller flat at 20 Bracknell Gardens in Hampstead.

Klein begins work on her autobiography. Rediscovered among Roger Money-Kyrle‘s archive papers in 2015, the autobiography was transcribed by analyst Robert Hinshelwood and published in 2016.

Read Klein’s unfinished autobiography…


1954

Photograph of Melanie Klein around 1950
Melanie Klein with colleagues around 1950.

Walter Schmideberg, Klein’s estranged son-in-law, dies of an ulcerous illness in Switzerland. He has long been separated from his wife Melitta.


1955

On 1st February Klein establishes the Melanie Klein Trust, something she has thought of doing for several years. She invites Wilfred BionPaula HeimannBetty JosephRoger Money-Kyrle, and Hanna Segal to be trustees, and puts in £600 to get it started.

New Directions in Psychoanalysis: The Significance of Infant Conflict in the Pattern of Adult Behaviour, edited by Klein, Money-Kyrle and Heimann, is published.

Klein attends the Geneva Congress, held on 24th-25th July. The first day, Klein delivers a paper called, ‘A Study of Envy and Gratitude.’ It is among the most controversial of all Klein’s papers, and elicits an intensely critical reaction. Heimann, by now no longer on good terms with Klein, is among those who challenge the paper’s assertions.

On 24th November Klein writes to Heimann, asking her to resign as trustee of the newly established Melanie Klein Trust. Spelling the end of their long and close friendship, Heimann soon also leaves the Kleinian group.


1956

Klein, with the help of previous analysand Elliott Jaques, starts to sort through and order her notes on ‘Richard’. These notes will become Narrative of a Child Analysis, her only full-length account of a single analysis.

On 6th May the Society marks Freud’s centenary year.

Donald Winnicott is elected president of the British Psycho-Analytical Society.


1957

Photograph of Ernest Jones
Ernest Jones

The highly controversial Envy and Gratitude is published in June, expanded from Klein’s 1955 Geneva Congress paper with the help of Canadian analyst Elliot Jaques.

On her 75th birthday, Klein is given a gold and Victorian garnet jewellery set by the British Society.


1958

Ernest Jones dies on the 11th February, at the age of 79.

Listen to a recording of Melanie Klein speaking, made around this time:

Transcription: “[I know] quite a distinguished analyst in Berlin, who said that at times sometimes months passed in which [he] wasn’t saying a word. So that was [definitely] an attitude which I don’t think was shared neither by Freud, nor by Abraham. I have good reasons to think it was not shared by Freud either and I definitely know it was not shared by Abraham. But, if I compare the interpretations of today with the interpretations given even at the time by Abraham, there are much more interpretations given and what is mostly important is they go deeper, they establish a connection more with the unconscious.”


1959

After previously being taken up and then unfinished by French psychoanalyst and philosopher Jacques Lacan, Klein’s Psycho-Analysis of Children is finally published in a French translation by Françoise and Jean-Baptiste Boulanger.

Photograph of Klein with her grandson Michael in 1958
Melanie Klein with her grandson Michael in 1958.

Klein reads a paper, ‘Our Adult World and Its Roots in Infancy’ to an audience of sociologists in London.

Klein gives her paper, ‘On the Sense of Loneliness’ at the Copenhagen Congress in July. Here she explores the deep yearning for an unattainable return to the baby’s first experience of an entirely devoted mother figure. The paper will later be published as part of Envy and Gratitude and Other Works 1946-1963.


1960

Photograph of Klein in 1959, taken by Jane Bown
Melanie Klein in 1959, photographed by Jane Bown.

In the spring, Klein is diagnosed with anaemia. She feels increasingly exhausted and physically weak.

During the summer she travels to Villars-sur-Ollon in Switzerland, determined to rest and regain her health. Her son Eric soon joins her but, by this time, she has grown seriously ill. She returns to England and is immediately admitted to hospital, where she receives a diagnosis of colon cancer. At the beginning of September, she undergoes an operation to remove the cancer. This seems at first to have been successful, but complications arise after she has a fall and breaks her hip.

Melanie Klein dies a few weeks later, on 22nd September 1960. She is cremated at Golders Green Crematorium, her funeral attended by a large group of friends, colleagues and relatives. Her daughter Melitta is not there.

Read a transcript of a 1983 BBC Radio 3 documentary about Klein’s life and ideas… Produced by Professor Richard Wollheim, the documentary featured a range of contributors including Betty Joseph, Elliott Jaques, Katharina Jones (Ernest Jones’ wife), Hanna Segal, Marion Milner and Jo Sandler.


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