Throughout his life Nietzsche thought of himself as an educator, but the time he spent working in higher education was not long and much of it he found frustrating. Appointed professor in classical philology at the University of Basel in 1869 when he was only 24 years old, he was seen as a prodigy with a brilliant career ahead of him. However, he left academic life in 1878, due to his worsening health and increasing disillusionment with institutionalised scholarship. The writings for which he is most remembered were written in the following decade, which he spent wandering restlessly around Europe. Then, in 1889, he suffered a disastrous mental collapse from which he never recovered.
Until his death in 1900 Nietzsche remained a mute invalid under the guardianship of his sister Elisabeth, a repulsive individual with whom he quarrelled bitterly when she married an antisemitic high school teacher, Bernhard Förster, and accompanied him to found an “Aryan” colony, Nueva Germania, in Paraguay. Following the failure of the fly-blown settlement and the suicide of her husband, Elisabeth Förster-Nietzsche continued promoting racist ideas by seizing control of her helpless brother’s writings, establishing a Nietzsche Archive and methodically deleting passages in which he lambasted the “race swindle”. For this service she was duly rewarded. On the basis of a highly selective biography and a heavily redacted compilation of Nietzsche’s writings that she published under the title The Will to Power, she was several times nominated by admiring German academics for the Nobel prize in literature. When she died in 1935, Hitler attended her funeral.