Karel Capek was born in 1890 in Czechoslovakia. He was interested in visual art as a teenager and studied philosophy and aesthetics in Prague. During WWI he was exempt from military service because of spinal problems and became a journalist. He campaigned against the rise of communism and in the 1930s his writing became increasingly anti-fascist. He started writing fiction with his brother Josef, a successful painter, and went on to publish science-fiction novels, for which he is best known, as well as detective stories, plays and a singular book on gardening, The Gardener’s Year. He was nominated for the Nobel Prize for Literature several times and the Czech PEN Club created a literary award in his name. He died of pneumonia in 1938.