Melanie Klein was an influential figure in the 'British school' of psychoanalysis, devising therapeutic techniques for children that had great impact on present methods of child care and rearing and making an important contribution to both the theory and technique of psychoanalysis.
She was born in Vienna on 30th March 1882, the youngest of the four children of Dr Moriz Reizes and his wife, Libusa Deutsch.
In 1901 she became engaged to Arthur Klein, an engineer, and spent the two years of her engagement studying humanities at Vienna University.
She subsequently married Klein in March 1903 and they had three children: a daughter and two sons.
In 1910 the Kleins moved to Budapest, where Melanie first encountered Freud's work, which stimulated her interest in psychoanalysis.
She read her first paper, "The Development of a Child," to the Hungarian [Psychoanalytic] Society in 1919, and on the strength of that paper became a member of the Budapest Society. She stayed in Budapest until 1919, before separating from her husband, eventually divorcing him in 1922.
In 1921 Klein moved to Berlin, where she established a psychoanalytical practice with adults as well as children.
Klein's views on psychoanalysis of children conflicted with those of her contemporary, Anna Freud, Freud's views were adopted by the Berlin Psychoanalytical Society, who considered Klein's work to be "unorthodox."
In 1925 Klein gave her first paper on the technique of child analysis at a conference in Salzburg and was subsequently invited to give some lectures on child analysis in England in the same year; these six lectures formed the basis of the initial part of The Psycho-Analysis of Children, her first book, published in 1932.
In 1927 Melanie Klein established herself in England, becoming a member of the British Psychoanalytical Society: she remained in England up until her death on September 22nd 1960.
Klein's works include Contributions to Psycho-Analysis,1921-1945, published in 1948, New Directions in Psycho-Analysis, published in 1955, the same year that the Melanie Klein Trust was founded, Envy and Gratitude, published in 1957 and Narrative of a Child Analysis, which was posthumously published in 1961. In 1952 to mark Klein's 70th birthday the International Journal of Psychoanalysis published a special issue entitled Developments in Psychoanalysis.
Relevant studies include Melanie Klein: her world and work, Phyllis Grosskurth, 1986; Melanie Klein, Hanna Segal, 1980.