Chronology (cf. detailed portrait) Friedrich Dürrenmatt: His Life and Oeuvre

Schematischer Plan von Konolfingen mit literarischen Motiven und Stoffen, um 1960
Schematischer Plan von Konolfingen mit literarischen Motiven und Stoffen, um 1960
1921 January 5th: birth of Friedrich Dürrenmatt in Konolfingen (canton of Berne, Emmental region). Son of a minister.
1935 The family moves to Berne.
1937 Bicycle trip to Munich. In Munich, FD discovers Expressionist art at the «degenerate» art exhibition presented at the Hofgarten.
1941 Baccalaureate. Begins studies in literature in Berne. First literary essays. In parallel, FD draws and paints.
1942/43 Pursues studies in Zurich for two semesters. Keeps company with the painter Walter Jonas's circle, thanks to which he discovers modern literature (a.o. Kafka).
1943-46 Pursues studies, mainly in philosophy, in Berne. Deeply marked by Kant and Kierkegaard.
1946 Cuts his studies short, and decides to become a writer. Marries the actress Lotti Geissler. Moves to Basel.
1947 A first play - As It Is Written - is produced at Zurich's Schauspielhaus and provokes a scandal, earning him the recognition and friendship of Max Frisch. Birth of his son Peter.
1948/49 Moves to Ligerz, on the Lake of Bienne. FD burns his unfinished Tower of Babel play and, within weeks, writes the entire script of the play Romulus the Great. Birth of his daughter Barbara.
1951/52 Birth of his daughter Ruth. The detective stories that FD writes for the magazine Der Schweizerische Beobachter (The Judge and His Hangman / Suspicion), and his radio plays for German-language radio represent his main source of income during the first half of the 1950s.

Settles in Neuchâtel. Acquires the house at the Pertuis-du-Sault address, today's Centre Dürrenmatt. The Marriage of Mr. Mississippi is produced at the Munich Kammerspiele, spreading FD's renown to Germany. The subject of his unfinished The Tower of Babel is transformed into the play An Angel Comes to Babylon (premiered in 1953), inspiring the his first Tower of Babel drawing.

1956 The Visit is produced at Zurich's Schauspielhaus, earning the playwright international acclaim: the play would go on to be staged, amongst others, in New York (Broadway) under the direction of Peter Brook in 1958, and in Milan under the direction of Giorgio Strehler in 1960.
1957/58 Screenplay for It Happened in Broad Daylight (on a theme he would develop in his novel The Pledge).
1959 Staging of Frank the Fifth. Works on The Execution of Justice for a film adaptation.
1962 Staging of The Physicists. FD has become the contemporary playwright the most staged in German-language theatres.
1963 His play Hercules and the Augean Stables is poorly received, inspiring FD to draw a series of caricatures of critics, which would remain one of his favourite themes henceforth.
1966 Staging of The Meteor. Revisions on Frank the Fifth, inspiring the painting Letzte Generalversammlung der Eidgenössischen Bankanstalt  (the federal banking establishment's last general assembly)
1968/69 Co-directs the Basel Theatre with Werner Düggelin. Dramatic adaptations of Shakespeare and Strindberg.
1969 In the wake of various differences of opinion and a first heart attack, Dürrenmatt takes leave of the Basel Theatre. While convalescing at Vulpera, he begins working on his autobiography, Stoffe. Named co-editor of the newly founded Sonntags-Journal, he engages ever more actively in the journalistic political debates of the day.
1973 The production of his comedy The Collaborator is a flop. FD writes a long postscript analyzing the play's failure, thus triggering a work-intensive period of prose writings.
1974/75 Travels to Israel upon the invitation of the Israeli government. The lecture he gives there on Judaism and Christianity would serve as the basis of his major essay, On Israel.
1975 Second heart attack. Starts working on the play The Deadline (staged in 1977). Creates a series of India ink washes on the begetting, birth and death of the Minotaur, Atlas drawings.
1976 First exhibition of Dürrenmatt's artworks at the Hôtel du Rocher belonging to Hans Liechti in Neuchâtel. Followed by exhibitions in Zurich (Galerie Daniel Keel, 1978), Berne (Loeb-Galerie, 1981) and Neuchâtel (Musée d'Art et d'Histoire, 1985).
1978 Publication by Diogenes of Dürrenmatt - Bilder und Zeichnungen (Dürrenmatt-Paintings and Drawings). For the first time, the general public becomes acquainted with Dürrenmatt's visual art.
1980 The Complete Literary  Works (29 volumes ) published in collaboration with the playwright. Revisions made to most of the plays. Changes from the publishing firm Arche Verlag over to Diogenes Verlag.
1981 Publication of Stoffe I-III (Labyrinth).
1983 Death of his wife Lotti. Staging of his comedy Achterloo.
1984 The film director and actress Charlotte Kerr shoots a film on Dürrenmatt, Portrait of a Planet. FD marries Charlotte Kerr. A new, revised version of Achterloo is staged in Schwetzingen in 1988. Henceforth, Dürrenmatt would devote himself exclusively to writing prose.
1985 Publication of the short story The Minotaur. A Ballad, accompanied by a series of wash drawings on the same theme. Finishes writing the detective story Justice.
1986 The Mission, short story.

FD bequeaths his literary archives to the Swiss Confederation.
Publication of his novel Valley of Confusion.

1990 The second volume of Stoffe, Turmbau - on which the author worked all through the 1980s - is published. Takes his last stand with Switzerland - A Prison: A Speech for Václav Havel. December 14th: death of Dürrenmatt in his home in Neuchâtel.
1991 Posthumous publication of Midas oder die schwarze Leinwand (Midas or the Black Canvas). Opening of the Swiss literary archives.
2000 Inauguration of the Centre Dürrenmatt Neuchâtel, architecturally conceived to integrate Dürrenmatt's former home.

Dürrenmatt's literary works have been translated into over forty languages. In addition to the seven Honoris Causa doctorates conferred upon him, Dürrenmatt was the recipient of numerous literary awards, including the Swiss Schiller Foundation Grand Prix (1960), the State of Austria Award for European literature (1983) and the Georg Büchner Prize (Germany, 1986).