Paul Thomas Mann was born in Lübeck, the second son of Thomas Johann Heinrich Mann (a senator and a grain merchant) and his wife Júlia da Silva Bruhns (a Brazilian of German and Portuguese ancestry who emigrated to Germany when seven years old). His mother was Roman Catholic but Mann was baptised into his father's Lutheran religion. Mann's father died in 1891 and his trading firm was liquidated. The family subsequently moved to Munich. Mann attended the science division of a Lübeck Gymnasium (school), then spent time at the Ludwig Maximillians University of Munich and Technical University of Munich where, in preparation for a journalism career, he studied history, economics, art history and literature.
Mann lived in Munich from 1891 until 1933, with the exception of a year in Palestrina, Italy, with his novelist elder brother Heinrich. Thomas worked with the South German Fire Insurance Company in 1894-95. His career as a writer began when he wrote for Simplicissimus. Mann's first short story, "Little Mr Friedemann" (Der Kleine Herr Friedemann), was published in 1898.
In 1905, Mann married Katia Pringsheim, daughter of a wealthy, secular Jewish industrialist family. She later joined the Lutheran church. The couple had six children.
|Erika||9 November 1905||27 August 1969|
|Klaus||18 November 1906||21 May 1949|
|Angelus Gottfried Thomas "Golo"||29 March 1909||7 April 1994|
|Monika||7 June 1910||17 March 1992|
|Elisabeth||24 April 1918||8 February 2002|
|Michael||21 April 1919||1 January 1977|
In 1929, Mann had a cottage built in the fishing village of Nidden, East Prussia (now Nida, Lithuania) on the Curonian Spit, where there was a German art colony and where he spent the summers of 1930–1932 working on Joseph and His Brothers. The cottage is a cultural center dedicated to him, with a small memorial exhibition. In 1933, while traveling in the South of France, Mann heard from Klaus and Erika in Munich, that it would not be safe for him to return to Germany. The family (except the two oldest children) emigrated to Küsnacht, near Zurich, Switzerland but received Czechoslovak citizenship and a passport in 1936. He then emigrated to the United States in 1939, where he taught at Princeton University. In 1942, the Mann family moved to Pacific Palisades, Los Angeles, California, where they lived until after the end of World War II. On 23 June 1944 Thomas Mann was naturalized as a citizen of the United States.