Felix Salten was the pen name of Jewish writer Siegmund Salzmann, born 1869 in Budapest, Hungary. His family moved to Vienna, Austria, shortly thereafter. Due to his family’s impoverished circumstances, Salten had very little formal education; however, as an adult he rose to prominence in Viennese literary circles. Salten wrote in a variety of genres including short stories, poems, plays, essays, and became an art and theater critic.
A trip to the Alps was the inspiration for Salten’s Bambi, ein Leben im Walde (Bambi, a Life in the Woods). It was translated from German into English by American writer Jay Vivian (David Whittaker) Chambers. Bambi was actually written for adults and not intended as a book for children. The coming-of-age story of its lead character, a roe deer, is set against the realistic backdrop of an animal’s life in the wild. It deals with mature and universal themes, including the often difficult cycle of life.
In addition to Bambi, Salten wrote three other animal stories: Bambi’s Children: The Story of a Forest Family; Fifteen Rabbits: A Celebration of Life; and Florian the Emperor’s Horse.
In the 1930s Austria became increasingly hostile toward its Jewish citizens. Salten’s books, including Bambi, were banned by the Nazis. Felix Salten moved to Zurich, Switzerland, in 1938 and lived there until his death in 1945.