Slavko Grum was born in 1901, in the village of Šmartno pri Litiji. The family soon moved to Novo mesto, the chief city in Lower Carniola (in southeastern Slovenia), where Grum attended the Franciscan primary school and academic high school. In 1919 he went to Vienna to study medicine. There he became acquainted with the psychoanalytical theories of Sigmund Freud, as well as the modern avant-garde theatre (especially Max Reinhardt’s production of Ibsen’s Ghosts and Aleksandr Tairov’s production of Wilde’s Salome), both dramas were enormously influential for Grum’s own playwriting. He completed his medical studies in 1926 and returned to Ljubljana, where he worked for three years at various hospitals. He was employed as a doctor in a hospital for women’s sickness and at the psychiatric clinic, and it was there that he obtained material for writing his most important works, including plays. He had a strong professional interest in psychopathology and also lectured on psychoanalysis.
Grum’s literary output was relatively meager, consisting of a few plays and a number of short “sketches” published in Ljubljana periodicals. Grum’s plays are the peak of Slovenian expressionism. While studying medicine in Vienna from 1920 to 1927, he wrote four plays that were most original in terms of both content and style; these plays, which has a bitter poetic air to them, are also imbued with spirit of a dire social situation and the tragedy of the gloomy vicissitudes of the present. His critical reputation rests wholly on the play Dogodek v mestu Gogi (An Event in the Town of Goga, 1930), which won a prize from the Yugoslav Ministry of Education for the best original Yugoslav play.
He died in Zagorje of liver cancer in 1949, the day after his forty-eight birthday. It is after Grum that the “Grum” Award for the best Slovenian play script is named.