Antoine Marie Joseph Artaud was born in Marseille on September 4th, 1896. It was his mother who called him ‘Antonin’, since it was a diminutive form of ‘Antoine’ (or ‘Anthony’). Even though his mother gave birth to many children, only Antonin, his brother and sister survived childhood. At the age of four, Antonin fell ill with meningitis. This disease made Antonin a nervous and bad-tempered person throughout teenage years. Furthermore, he suffered from neuralgia, stammering and strong periods of depression. His parents arranged a long series of sanatorium treatment for their troublemaking son, which continued five years, with a two-month break, when Antonin was conscripted into the army. He was not accepted there because of his habit of sleepwalking, stimulated by himself. For the period of Artaud's "rest cures" at the clinics he read Rimbaud, Baudelaire and Poe. In May 1919 the chief doctor of the sanatorium, Dr. Dardel, recommended opium for Artaud, ‘prescribing’ a lifelong addiction to different kinds of drugs. Artaud came to Paris in 1920, and in 1926 he was expelled from the Paris surrealist group. In November 1926 he created his Manifesto for an Abortive Theatre.
Starting from 1930, Artaud scrutinized theatre in order to create his own concept. The Theatre and Its Double was one of his most famous literary works in this field. His theatrical play, The Cenci, did not bring any commercial success, as the audience ignored his newly-created Theatre of Cruelty.