Austrian founder of anthroposophy.
Born in Kraljeve, Croatia, the son of a Catholic stationmaster, Steiner was educated at the University of Vienna, where he studied natural science. From 1890 to 1897 he worked at Weimar, editing Goethe's writings on natural history. At this point Steiner's career as an academic scholar ended when he came under the influence of Annie Besant (1847–1933) and the theosophist movement. For some ten years Steiner served the movement but in 1912 he broke away to found his own school of anthroposophy. Steiner established the headquarters of his new movement at the so-called ‘Goetheanum’ at Dornach near Basel.
Like its theosophical ancestor, Steiner's anthroposophy is essentially eclectic, with elements taken from eastern religions, early Christian gnosticism, mystic literature, and classical German philosophy. It has consequently been quite self-contained. More influential have been his educational theories with their emphasis on play and creative activity in the learning process; Steiner schools are operating in many parts of the western world.