Brief biography

1900 1910 1920 1930 1940 1950 1960 2009

Place and date of birth are unknown.

  • Ret Marut is hired as an actor at the Essen City Theater for the 1907/1908 season.
  • The first official mention of Ret Marut is in the 1908 edition of the Neues Theater-Almanach.

  • Works as a director for the play Young Hero and Lover in Suhl and Ohrdruf (Thuringia). Member of the Hansen-Eng Theatre Ensemble.

  • Marut is an actor at the City Theater in Crimmitschau near Chemnitz, where Marut meets Elfriede Zielke.
  • He moves to Berlin.

  • Along with Elfriede Zielke, Marut is a member of the Neue Bühne (New Stage) Berliner Ensemble, with guest performances in East Prussia and Posen (Poznan). They perform primarily in small towns.

  • Marut works as an actor and dancer at the Gdansk (Danzig) City Theater.

  • Marut works for three seasons (until 1915) at the Düsseldorf City Theater. He plays minor roles, edits the theater newsletter Masken (Masks), and is the secretary of the Hochschule der Bühnenkunst (School of dramatic arts), founded in 1914.
  • First publications.
  • Irene Zielke is born on March 20.

  • Separation from Elfriede Zielke.

  • On November 10, Marut cancels his residency registration with the Düsseldorf authorities and registers in Munich on November 13 as an American “stud.phil.” (as it appeared on the application).
  • On November 24, Irene Mermet, former student at the Düsseldorf Hochschule für Bühnenkunst and now a colleague of Marut’s, registers as a resident of Munich as well.

  • J. Mermet Publishers, Munich, publishes Marut’s novella An das Fräulein von S… (To the Honorable Miss S), written under the pseudonym Richard Maurhut.

  • The first issue of Der Ziegelbrenner (The Brick maker) appears on September 1. “Responsible for publication, editing and content: Ret Marut, Munich, Der Ziegelbrenner Publishers, Munich 23.”.

  • Following the proclamation of the Bavarian Republic on November 7, Marut distributes the speech Die Weltrevolution beginnt (The World Revolution Is Underway) as a pamphlet in mid-December, and organizes two speaking events around that motto.

  • Following the murder of Kurt Eisner (February 21), Marut is appointed to the press division of the Central Council as the censor of the München-Augsburger Abendzeitung (Munich and Augsburg afternoon newspaper)
  • On April 7, a soviet republic is proclaimed in Bavaria. Marut is director of the press division of the soviet republic’s central committee, and is a member of the soviet government’s propaganda committee.
  • On May 1, Marut is arrested following the invasion and victory of the White Guards.
  • After he successfully flees from Munich, the Bayerisches Polizeiblatt (Bavarian Police page) of June 23 announces that he is wanted for high treason.
  • Returns to Berlin.

  • From spring 1919 to summer 1923, Marut lives underground in various places in Germany and Austria.

  • The last of a total of 13 issues of Der Ziegelbrenner appears in December 1921.

  • Marut arrives in London in August, where he is placed in investigative custody at London’s Brixton Prison on November 30 for failing to register as a foreigner.

  • Marut is released on February 15 without a deportation order and leaves for Mexico, where he arrives on the coast of the Gulf of Mexico in the summer.
  • Journal entry from July 26: “The Bavarian of Munich is dead.”
  • He rents a wooden hut north of the oil harbor city Tampico, in which he regularly lives and works until 1931.

  • Birth year of his writer’s existence as B. Traven. In spring, a story appears under that name in Vorwärts.
  • His novel Die Baumwollpflücker (The Cotton Pickers) is published in Vorwärts for the first time in 22 installments from June 21 to July 16.
  • On September 15, Ernst Preczang, director of the editorial Büchergilde Gutenberg (Book Guild of Gutenberg), founded in 1924, accepts The Cotton Pickers for publication, and requests additional manuscripts.
  • Preczang confirms the receipt of Das Totenschiff (The Death Ship) on October 19.

  • As a photographer named Torsvan, Traven participates in an expedition to Chiapas, in southern Mexico, organized by archeologist Enrique Juan Palacios.
  • He leaves the 30-person team in San Christobal de Las Cases at the end of June, and continues his journey through Chiapas alone until early August.
  • The Death Ship appears in April as the first Traven book from the Book Guild.
  • The Wobbly, a version of The Cotton Pickers expanded to book length, appears in the same year. On August 8, Traven offers the novel Der Schatz der Sierra Madre (The Treasure of the Sierra Madre) to the Büchergilde; the manuscript is accepted.

  • Der Schatz der Sierra Madre (El Tesoro de la Sierra Madre).
  • Die Brücke Im Dschungel (The Bridge in the Jungle) is serialized in Vorwärts from May 14 to June 24.
  • In his journal Fanal, Erich Mühsam asks “Where is the brick burner? (Wo ist der ziegelbrenner)?”
  • Traven attends the six-week summer courses at Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM), taking Spanish, Mayan and Nahuatl languages: Culture and History.
  • He visits Chiapas.

  • Traven travels to Chiapas from January to June, where he visits the Maya community of the Lacandons on the border to Guatemala and the excavation sites of Chichen-Itza.
  • He attends summer courses in Latin American literature and Mexican history at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México.
  • The volume of stories Der Busch (The Bush) and the travelogue Land des Frühlings (Land of Springtime), with photos taken by Traven, are published by the Büchergilde.

  • Die Brücke im Dschungel (The Bridge in the Jungle) and Die weiße Rose (The White Rose) are published by the Büchergilde.
  • Traven returns to Chiapas, the setting of the Caoba cycle, from mid-December 1929 until March 1930.

  • On July 12, Traven receives a foreigner’s identification card as the North American engineer Traven Torsvan.
  • He moves into a little house on the city limits of Acapulco, and travels to Chiapas again at the end of the year.

  • The Büchergilde publishes the first two volumes of the Caoba Cycle: Der Karren (The Carreta) and Regierung (Government).
  • The Büchergilde’s June newsletter reports the great success of the Traven books; more than 100,000 copies of Das Totenschiff (The Death Ship) have been sold.
  • Traven moves out of his wooden hut north of Tampico, and returns to Chiapas in October to look for material on Monterias, the mahogany industry in the jungle.

  • The offices of the Gutenberg Büchergilde are occupied by Hitler’s SA on May 2. The publishing house is absorbed by the Deutsche Arbeiterfront (German Workers’ Front).
  • On May 23, Traven withdraws all rights to his works from the Berlin guild, and transfers them to the Büchergilde chapter in Zurich, where the leadership of the Büchergilde has gone into exile.
  • The third volume of the Caoba cycle, Der Marsch ins Reich der Caoba (March to the Monteria), is published as the first book of the Zurich Büchergilde.

  • The Death Ship, Marut/Traven’s first book publication in English, is published by Alfred Knopf in New York and Chatto & Windus in London.

  • Two additional volumes of the Caoba Cycle, Die Troza (Trozas) and Die Rebellion der Gehenkten (The Rebellion of the Hanged), are published in Zurich.
  • The April issue of the Büchergilde newsletter is dedicated to the “10 Years of Traven.”

  • The executive board of the Zurich Büchergilde advises Traven to thoroughly revise the manuscript of Ein General kommt aus dem Dschungel (General from the Jungle).

  • A letter of solidarity from Traven to the anti-Fascist Spanish fighters appears in the Spanish daily Solidaridad Obrera (Barcelona).

  • On January 14, Traven officially withdraws from the Zurich Büchergilde.
  • The last volume of the Caoba Cycle is published in Swedish Djungelgeneralen (General from the Jungle) by Halmström publishers in Stockholm.

  • Dutch exile publisher Allert de Lange (Amsterdam) publishes Ein General kommt aus dem Dschungel (General from the Jungle) in German.

  • During the 400th anniversary celebration of the city of Morelia in the Mexican state of Michoacán, a dramatized version of The Rebellion of the Hanged is performed with great success.
  • Esperanza Lopez Mateos, sister of who would later be president of México, translates The Bridge in the Jungle for the Mexican edition. In the following years, she translates seven more of Traven’s books into Spanish, and holds the copyrights to his books as his agent.
  • Warner Brothers acquires the film rights to The Treasure of the Sierra Madre.

  • B. Traven receives a Mexican identity card issued in Acapulco as Traven Torsvan.

  • The name Hal Croves appears for the first time in a letter addressed to Esperanza Lopez Mateos dated June 29. He now signs for B. Traven and appears on his behalf.

  • In an essay titled La tercera guerra mundial (The Third World War) published in the November/December edition of the Mexican journal Estudios sociales, B. Traven warns against the risks of armament and a third world war.

  • John Huston meets with Hal Croves in Mexico City and Acapulco to discuss the filming of The Treasure of the Sierra Madre.

  • Filming of The Treasure of the Sierra Madre begins in spring; John Huston writes the screenplay and directs, and the film stars Humphrey Bogart and Walter Huston. As the agent of the author, Hal Croves participates enthusiastically in the filming, but denies suspicions that he is B. Traven.

  • The film The Treasure of the Sierra Madre opens to rave reviews and wins three Oscars.
  • Mexican journalist Luis Sporta tracks down B. Traven in Acapulco in July. On August 7, the magazine Mañana runs the headline that restaurant owner Berick Traven Torsvan is the world-famous B. Traven. Torsvan denies this in several newspapers.
  • Preczang sends a letter from Ret Marut/B. Traven’s daughter to Traven, in which she claims that Traven is her father because he and Ret Marut are one and the same person. In his letter of response, Traven denies being Ret Marut.

  • Macario is published by the Zurich Büchergilde.

  • The first issue of BT-Mitteilungen (BT Announcements), a hectographed publication about B. Traven, edited and published by Josef Wieder, appears at the end of January and is sent to literary agents.
  • Traven Torsvan is granted Mexican citizenship on September 3.
  • Esperanza Lopez Mateos commits suicide.

  • Rosa Elena Lujan begins to work for Traven.

  • The New York Times names the English edition of Macario (The Third Guest) best short story of the year.

  • La Rebelión de los Colgados (The Rebellion of the Hanged), with the screenplay by Hal Croves, is filmed in Mexico. Hal Croves is involved in the shooting as the agent of B. Traven.
  • The film premieres at the Biennale in Venice on August 28.
  • Traven and Rosa Elena Lujan travel to Europe, attended the premiere and visited Antwerp, Venice, Paris and Amsterdam, among other places.

  • Copyrights to the Traven books are transferred to Rosa Elena Lujan.

  • Rosa Elena Lujan and Hal Croves are married on May 16 in San Antonio, Texas.
  • Traven moves from Acapulco to Mexico City, at Calle Durango 33, (Colonia Roma); this is also the headquarters of the “R.E. Lujan Literary Agency,” which administers Traven’s rights.
  • In the following years, Rosa Elena translates the Traven books that have not yet been translated into Spanish for their Mexican editions, and compiles two volumes of stories.

  • On September 30, a warning is published in Börsenblatt für den deutschen Buchhandel (Journal of the German Publishers' Stock Exchange) about false Traven manuscripts, saying that only those offered by Josef Wieder are authentic.
  • The manuscript for Aslan Norval is finished and announced in BT-Mitteilungen.

  • Macario, screenplay by Hal Croves, is filmed in Mexico.
  • On September 14, Traven undergoes surgery in Berlin for his progressing deafness.
  • On October 1, Das Totenschiff (The Death Ship) premieres at the Hamburg City Theater in a co-production of Ufa (Germany) and Producciones Jose Kohn (Mexico). The screenplay is by Hans Jacoby; the play is directed by George Tressler and stars Horst Buchholz. Mr. and Mrs. Croves attend the premiere.

  • Aslan Norval is published by Desch following a thorough stylistic reworking of the manuscript by Johannes Schönherr, the former Büchergilde editor.
  • The last issue of BT-Mitteilungen is published in April.
  • Josef Wieder dies.
  • Theo Pinkus from Zurich takes over the representation of Traven for the German-speaking world and the socialist countries.

  • The White Rose is filmed (screenplay by Philip Stevenson); but is not released for screening until 1975.

  • Stern magazine reporter Gerd Heidemann follows Traven’s tracks in Mexico.
  • In September, Traven moves into the house on Calle Mississippi 16 in Mexico City.

  • In December, Gerd Heidemann, posing as an archeologist, garners an interview with Traven in Mexico City.
  • Stern subsequently reports that Traven is the illegitimate son of Emperor Wilhelm II.

  • The Stockholm newspaper Aftonbladet editorializes that Traven deserves to be nominated for the Nobel Prize.

  • Traven signs his will on March 4, saying that he was born Traven Torsvan Croves in Chicago in 1890, that he used the names B. Traven and Hal Croves during his career as a writer. He bequeaths his entire estate and the rights to his works to Rosa Elena Lujan.
  • Traven Torsvan Croves dies on March 26 at about 6:00 pm. The death certificate specifies the causes of death as kidney sclerosis and prostate cancer.
  • His ashes are strewn over Chiapas from an airplane.
  • On March 28, rose Elena Lujan announces to the press that her late husband was the German actor, writer and revolutionary Ret Marut.

  • Mrs. Rosa Elena Luján, widow of B. Traven, deceased  On Tuesday, May 5th, in Mexico city, at the age of 94.