Jaroslav Hašek was born in Bohemia on 24 April 1883, the son of a teacher of mathematics. Forced by the dictates of necessity to earn some sort of a living he became a bank clerk, but soon abandoned it in favour of an eccentric and wandering life. He spent a good deal of time tramping off the beaten track in Central and South Eastern Europe. He also did various jobs as a journalist and soon became known as a comic character and a practical joker who was fond of associating with the devotees of taverns.
He wanted to write, and before the catastrophic years of the First World War he had published sixteen volumes of short stories. Taken prisoner on the Eastern Front he spent several years in Russian prison camps. On his return he began to write The Good Soldier Šveijk, his Gargantuan book which was to inflame a nation to resistance and sweep all Europe with the virility of its satire. According to his original plan, Šveijk was to be completed in six volumes. He died, however, in 1923 at Lipnice in Czechoslovakia, with only four volumes written.