Nietzsche was one of the most controversial philosophers of all time. He was opposed to all forms of society, morality, and order. Some have interpreted his writings as racist, but much of that was added posthumously by his sister, who was mentally disturbed.
Nietzsche was born in Prussia. His father was a Lutheran minister who went insane and died when he was four years old. Nietzsche's childhood was spent living with his mother, sister, and two maiden aunts. In 1858 he entered boarding school. There he studied theology and classical philosophy.
A year in the army in 1868 was cut short by illness, but his intellectual distinction was such that in 1869 he was appointed to the chair in philosophy at Basel, although at the time he was only 24 years old, and had none of the formal qualifications usually required. In 1879, Nietzsche resigned from the university because of his chronic ill healt, and on a modest pension devoted the rest of his time to writing. In 1889 Nietzsche collapsed on a street in Turin, unable to bear the sight of a horse being flogged, and for the remaining years of his life was clinically insane. It is generally accepted that during the years towards his death (and after it) his sister and guardian, Elisabeth Förster Nietzsche, played a role in muddying the channels of Nietzsche's influence on German life.