"Not to think like the others brings you in an unpleasant situation. Not to think like the others, simply means that you think."

– Eugène Ionesco, Introduction of "Antidotes", 1975


Most of the biographical data on Eugène Ionesco cannot be exactly determined for the beginnings of his career. When asked Eugène Ionesco pointed out that this would be personal data, only of interest for himself (and unfortunately the police – direct quote Ionesco). For the knowledge of his literary works, Ionesco says, the reading of his “Diaries” would be sufficient.

1909 - 1934

1909: Ionesco was born on November 26 (November 13 according to orthodox calendar) in Slatina (Romania). The often mentioned year of birth 1912 was given by Ionesco in Paris since being a newcomer to the theatre scene he wanted to be among the youngest.

1913-1925: Ionesco lives in France with his mother, mostly in Paris.

1916: Ionesco’s father returns to Romania, which has just entered into war. In his youth Ionesco regularly (each Thursday) watches the puppet theatre in "Jardin du Luxembourg".

1917: Ionesco’s father, who at first was believed to have been killed in war, marries again. The father always took Power’s side, no matter what colour. Last but not least for this reason the relationship between Ionesco and his father was permanently tense.

1917-1919: Because of his poor health Ionesco’s mother sends him to La Chapelle Anthenaise together with his sister Marilina (born 1911). In his diaries Ionesco describes this period as the most peaceful and harmonic time of his life.

1925: Return home to Romania. He attends High school (Stantual Sava).

1928: A-level graduation (Abitur) at "lycée de Craiova".

1929: Eugène registers at University of Bucharest (French language and literature).

1930: First publication in magazine "Zodiac" (Article about Ilarie Voronca).

1931: "Elegy on tiny beings" (volume of poems). Ionesco discovers surrealism.

1934: Essay collection "Nu" ("no").

1935 - 1952

1936: Wedding with Rodica Burlanu and death of his mother. Besides Ionesco is for the first time confronted with the rising Fascism in the streets for Bucharest.

1937: Teacher at High School in Bucharest.

1938: Scholarship for a study in Paris – Ionesco leaves Romania. The intended dissertation on "Sin and death in French poetry since Baudelaire" Ionesco never finished. Later Ionesco said in this respect: "I wrote this dissertation in form of a theatre play". In answering the questions whether he was refering to "the king dies" Ionesco replied: "I refer to all of my plays" (Quelle Biographie Rowohlt Verlag). In Paris Ionesco develops a liking in the works of Emmanuel Mounier, Berdiaev, Jacques Maritain and Gabriel Marcel.

1939-1942: Ionesco journeys to Romania and due to the beginning war turmoil his return to France is delayed ("by a few weeks"). Back to France Ionesco initially lives at the "Hotel de al Poste" in Marseille.

1944: Birth of his daughter Marie-France.

1945: Proof-reader for a publisher of administration publications in Paris. Ionesco moves to 38, rue Claude-Terrasse, Paris 16e.

1948: November: Ionesco’s father dies.

1948-1949: Writing of “Die kahle Sängerin”.

1950: May 11: Premiere of "La Cantatrice chauve" at Théâtre des Noctambules (Regie: Nicolas Bataille).

1951: February 20, Premiere of "La Lecon" at Thèâtre de Poche-Montparnasse.

1952: April 22, Premiere of "Les Chaises" at Thèâtre du Nouveau Lancry. October 7 "La Cantatrice chauve" and "La Lecon" are for the first time shown together at "Théâtre de la Huchette" (until April 26, 1993). Ionesco becomes a member of "Collège de pataphysique".

1953 - 1965

1953: February 26, Premiere of "Victimes du devoir" at Thèâtre du Quartier-Latin.

1954: Premiere of "Amédée ou comment s’en débarrasser" at Thèâtre du Babylone.

1955: October 5, Premiere of "Le Tableau" at Thèâtre de la Huchette, October 15 Premiere in Helsinki (in Swedish) of "Le Nouveau Locataire".

1956: February 20, Premiere of "L’Impromptu de l’Alma" at Studio des Champs-Élysées.

1957: February 16, New recording of the two plays "La Cantatrice chauve" and "La Lecon" at Théâtre de la Huchette, where they are constantly shown together until today (End 1987 10,000 shows in total!); June 23 Premiere of "L’Avenir est dans les oeufs" at Théâtre de la Cité Universitaire; September 10 French premiere of "Le Nouveau Locataire" in Paris.

1959: June 23 Premiere of "Tueur sans gage" at Théâtre Récamier ; October 31 Premiere of "Rhinocéros" in Düsseldorf.

1960: January 20, French premiere of "Rhinocéros" in Paris at Odéon Théâtre de France; April 28 English premiere at the Royal Court Theatre in London (Regie: Orson Wells; Behringer: Sir Laurence Olivier). From 1960 to 1964 Ionesco lives at 14, rue de Rivoli, Paris 1er.

1962: December 15, Premiere of "Le Roi se meurt" at Théâtre de L’Alliance ; December 15 : Premiere of "Le Piéton de l’air" in Düsseldorf.

1963: February 8, French premiere of "Le Piéton de l’air" at Odéon Théâtre de France in Paris.

1964: December 30, Premiere of "La Soif et la Faim" in Düsseldorf.

1965: February 28, French premiere of "La Soif et la Faim" at Comédie Francaise in Paris.

1966 - 1994

1969: December : Grand Prix national du théâtre.

1970: Ionesco becomes "Chevalier" of Légion d’Honneur and is rewarded with the Austrian Grand Prix of European Literature; January 24: Premiere of "Jeux de Massacre" in Düsseldorf; September 11, French première at Théâtre de Montparnasse in Paris.

1971: January 4: WDR-Premiere of "La Vase" ; February 25 : Ionesco becomes a member of Academie Francaise.

1972: February 2: Premiere of "Macbett" at Théâtre Rive-Gauche. Ionesco makes the opening speech at Salzburger Festspiele.

1973: April 30, Ionesco receives the award of Jerusalem for his life work as well as in particular for this play "Rhinocéros"; November 14: Premiere of “Ce formidable bordel” at Théâtre Moderne.

1975: Première of « L’Homme aux valises » at Théâtre de L’Atelier.

1979: World record at Théâtre de la Huchette: Constant show of "La Cantatrice chauve" and "La Lecon" for more than 22 years. The record until then was held by Agatha Christie (Die Mausefalle).

1980: Première of "Voyages chez les Morts" at Guggenheim Theatre in New York.

1983: Ionesco performs with Nathalie Sarraute and Alain Robbe-Grillet a.o. in Virginia Woolf’s "Freshwater" at a Gala of Amnesty International.

1984: Ionesco becomes "Officier" of Légion d’Honneur.

1985: July 22: Premiere of the opera "Le Roi Bérenger" of Heinrich Suttermeister. Libretto according to the text of "Le roi se meurt".

1987: October 7: Premiere of the opera "Maximilien Kolbe" in Rimini, composer Dominique Probst, Libretto by Ionesco.

1989: Health problems stop Ionesco from taking a personal part in fighting for human rights in Romania.

1991: Théâtre Complet (his complete works) by Ionesco become part of the glorious "Bibliothèque de la Pléiade". Works being part of this collection are published in an exclusive cover written on equal paper. In 1991 Ionesco is the first living wrighter who is granted such honour.

1994: March 28: Ionesco dies at his Paris home. He is burried on "Cimetière de Montparnasse" (Allee Lenoir – 6e division). His last message on his gravestone: "Prier le Je Ne Sais Qui - j'espère: Jésus-Christ." (I beg "I do not know who" – I hope: Jesus Christ)

More detailed biographical data on Eugène Ionesco can be found in the monograph "Ionesco" from the Rowohlt publishing house (1991) and in the French biography "Ionesco" by André Le Gall (2009).