Georg Trakl was born into a protestant family in Salzburg on 3rd February 1887. His mother was depressed throughout his childhood and Trakl showed similar signs of emotional instability, often withdrawing from his friends and family.
Trakl was not very successful at school, at one point having to re-take a year. This was due in part to his drug addictions. As well as drinking heavily, he also took opium and even chloroform. He eventually dropped out of school and
became a pharmacist's apprentice, a career which allowed him to satisfy his need for drugs. During these years he also developed a close attachment to his sister Grete, leading some critics to speculate upon a possibly incestuous relationship.
As a writer, Trakl started by writing articles for a local newspaper, two one-act plays and numerous poems. However, he found little success. It was not until after a spell in the Austrian army, when he met Ludwig von Ficker, editor of the Der Brenner journal, that he was to receive any acclaim. Ficker encouraged Trakl and regularly published his poems, which by now largely concerned themselves with decay, courage and the search for God. A collection in Trakl's poetry was published in 1913.
Trakl was drafted back into the Austrian army in August 1914. During this time though he was often hospitalised and threatended suicide on numerous occassions. He eventually did commit suicide via a cocaine overdose in November 1914.