In 1924 Hermann Hesse married singer Ruth Wenger. After several weeks, however, he left Basel, only returning near the end of the year. Upon his return he rented a separate apartment, adding to his isolation. After a short trip to Germany with Wenger, Hesse stopped seeing her almost completely. The resulting feeling of isolation and inability to make lasting contact with the outside world led to increasing despair and thoughts of suicide.
Hesse began writing Steppenwolf in Basel, and finished it in Zürich. In 1926 he published a precursor to the book, a collection of poems titled The Crisis: From Hermann Hesse's Diary. The novel was later released in 1927. The first English edition was published in 1929 by Martin Secker in the United Kingdom and by Henry Holt and Company in the United States. That version was translated by Basil Creighton.