Brothers and Sisters

The Order of Birth in the Family

Karl König


Quick Look

  • A classic work describing personality traits affected by birth order
  • Explores the characteristics of first-, second- and third-born people, without discounting individuality
  • This third edition includes two new essays, some of Karl König's lecture notes and transcriptions

A classic reference work on child development which explains the characteristics of first-, second- and third-born people.

Floris Books
Parenting & Child Health
90 pages
Publication date:
30 Apr 2014


'There can be no doubt that special traits of character and mental make-up are found in children and adults who belong to the different ranks in the order of birth.'

In this classic work, Karl König attempts to explain the various characteristics of first-, second- and third-born people, without losing sight of the tremendous individuality of the human being.

Just as our environment shapes our language, social behaviour and mannerisms, so our place in the family also determines how we encounter life.

This book is a fascinating handbook for parents, teachers and carers. Over the years it has become a definitive reference on the subject of child development.

Includes an introductory essay by Alfons Limbrunner about the significance of König's work on family order for today.

Table of Contents

Introduction: An Evergreen Piece of Pioneering Work by Alfons Limbrunner
The Only Child
The First Child
The Second Child
The Third Child


'Readers will approach this book from their respective family positions, which in my case is the first of four. It was striking to see the first-born characterised as a defender of faith, tradition and the family against new ideas and action. Surely the balance is critical here.'
-- David Lorimer, Scientific & Medical Network

'For me the most telling aspect was how much König's descriptions of the first, second, third child and so on fitted so closely with characteristics we'd noticed in our children.'
-- Education Otherwise

'A pleasure to read this important work again.'
-- Camphill News NI

'A profound and insightful book.'
-- Perspectives

-- Desmond Morris, author of 'The Naked Ape'


Karl König (1902-66) was well-known as a physician, author and lecturer. He began his work at the Institute of Embryology at the University of Vienna. In 1940 he founded the Camphill Movement in Scotland. Based on Rudolf Steiner's insights into human development, the special education schools for children and villages for adults with special needs are now established in many parts of the world.


The print edition of this book is an expanded edition with extra essays and background material, and is published in the Karl König Archive series.

See a full list of the books in the Karl König Archive series

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