Thomas Mann wrote the novella Tonio Kröger in 1901 when he was 25 years old and published it in 1903.
The largely autobiographical story follows the course of a man's life from his schoolboy days to his adulthood. As a child, he experiences conflicting feelings for the bourgeois people around him. He feels both superior to them in his insights and envious of their innocent vitality. He struggle to strike a balance between art and life culminates in a tentative resolution after a return to his home city.
Tonio Kröger forms a pair with another story of Thomas Mann, Death in Venice (Der Tod in Venedig). They both describe the life of an artist and express Thomas Mann's views on art.