Pavel Kohout was born in Prague on 20 July 1928. Having joined the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia in 1946, he was expelled from it in 1969. In 1977, along with Vaclav Havel, later to become President of the Czechoslovak Republic, he drafted the original document of the civic movement known as Charter 77. His participation in the charter initiative resulted in him and his wife Jelena Mašinová being forcibly evicted from their Prague apartment in the year 1977, deported to Austria against his will in 1979, and deprived of his Czech citizenship. A year later he was granted Austrian citizenship, and in 1990 was given back his Czech passport. Today he is a national of two member states of the European Union. He lives, works and votes in both Prague and Vienna. He has been married twice before, has one son and two daughters, and has been involved with bringing up a third. He has been in the company of wire-haired dachshunds for forty-six years.
In 1969 he won the Austrian Theodor Czokor Prize as >dramatist of the year< for his play August August, the Clown. In 1977 he was awarded the Grand Austrian State Prize for European literature; in the year 1984 he became a member of the German Academy for Language and Poetry in Darmstadt, from which he resigned in 2009 in protest against their admissions policy; in 1997 he was given the traditional Kassel civic award >Glass of Reason<, and in 1998 the Austrian Decoration for Services to the Republic of Austria, First Class; in 2000 he was awarded the European Prize for Culture and Communication in Basel; in 2002 he received the Federal Coss of Merit from the Federal Republic of Germany, and in 2004 the Gold Medal of Honour of the Federal Capital Vienna.
He has received no honours in his homeland. In a speech replying to the Laudatory Address by the future Austrian President Heinz Fischer the author explained: »I owe the awards given to me in Austria, Germany and Switzerland to the fact that people there have only known me in the better half of my life.«