Grass was born in 1927 on the Baltic coast, in a suburb of the Free City of Danzig, now Gdansk, Poland. His parents were grocers. During World War II he served in the German Army as a tank gunner, and was wounded and captured by American forces in 1945. After his release, he worked in a chalk mine and then studied art in Düsseldorf and Berlin. He married his first wife, the Swiss ballet dancer Anna Schwarz, in 1954. From 1955 to 1967, he participated in the meetings of Group 47, an informal but influential association of German writers and critics, so called because it first met in September of 1947. Its members, including Heinrich Böll, Uwe Johnson, Ilse Aichinger, and Grass, were organized around their common mission to develop and use a literary language that stood in radical opposition to the complex and ornate prose style characteristic of Nazi-era propaganda. They last met in 1967.
Living on a small stipend from the publishing house Luchterhand, Grass and his family spent the years 1956 to 1959 in Paris, where he wrote The Tin Drum. In 1958 he won the annual prize of Group 47 for his readings from the work in progress. The novel shocked and astounded German critics and readers, confronting them for the first time with a harsh depiction of the German bourgeoisie during the Second World War. Grass’s 1979 volume, The Meeting at Telgte, is a fictitious account of a meeting of German poets in 1647 at the close of the Thirty Years’ War. The purpose of the fictional gathering, as well as the book’s cast of characters, parallels that of the post–World War II Group 47.
In Germany, Grass has long been as well known for his controversial politics as he is for his celebrated novels. He was Willy Brandt’s chief speechwriter for ten years and is a longtime supporter of the Social Democratic Party. Lately, he has been one of the few German intellectuals to protest publicly the swift course German reunification has taken. In 1990 alone, Grass published two volumes of lectures, speeches, and debates on the subject.
Grass’s poetry, though it receives less attention that his prose works, is generally well regarded. The tone of his poetry has shifted from exuberance and playfulness in his early work to a more restrained examination of moral and political issues. Critics most often praise his command of the language and his linguistic experiments. Grass has also written several plays which, although they are considered powerful, have met with modest success. Several of them have been linked with the Theater of the Absurd due to their startling imagery, black comedy, and bleak view of existence.(Source: Britannica)