Celebrating the life and art of Václav Havel
New York City, October through December 2006

Timeline: Childhood and early adulthood, through 1957

Go forward to
Early life in theater
1958 – 1968


Republic of Czechoslovakia formed on October 28, just after World War I, gaining independence from the dissolving Austro-Hungarian Empire. Tomas Masaryk is elected president. Havel would later write about the events of that day in his playTomorrow.

Havel is born on October 5, in Prague.
Nazis invade the Czech Lands, which become a German protectorate. Slovakia declares independence.
After being liberated with the help of Soviet troops, a new Czechoslovak government formed, once again uniting the Czech and Slovak peoples.
Czechoslovak Communist Party leader Klement Gottwald becomes prime minister, sharing power with other political groups after winning 38 percent of the vote.
Communists seize full power of the government. Havel’s wealthy family is declared bourgeois and a “class enemy.” Much of their property is taken by the state.
Havel completes compulsory schooling, but is barred from continuing as a full-time student because of his bourgeois family. He enters one of the few programs he is allowed into, studying to become a chemistry lab technician.
Communist Party purged. Eleven leaders executed for treason and espionage in Stalinist show trials.
Havel accepted into the Czechoslovak University of Technology, to study economics in the department of public transport.
Havel writes letter printed in Kveten, a new magazine for the younger generation of writers, which sparks debate about the status quo of the current writing establishment  Invited to the Writer’s Union annual conference, where he gives a notorious speech challenging the idea that art must be faithful to Socialist Realism.

Begins dating Olga Splichalova.

Havel begins service in the Czechoslovak Army.

Go forward to
Early life in theater
1958 –1968

Václav Havel. Photo by Alan Pajer.

Sponsored by:
The Village Voice nytheatre.com