Konstantin Iliev was born into a teacher's family in the village of Gorno Pavlikeni, Bulgaria, in 1937. Upon finishing the high school for foreign languages (German Department) in the town of Lovech in 1956, he went on to graduate in German Philology from the St. Kliment Ohridski University of Sofia in 1961. From 1969 to 1972 he was a full-time postgraduate student at the Humboldt University in Berlin, where he defended a Ph.D. Thesis on The Structure of Friedrich Duerrenmatt's Works.

Konstantin Iliev wrote his first play, Longing for Colours, in 1962. The play went into rehearsal at the Varna Theatre, but the premiere was banned because of ideological considerations. His next two plays, Without You in October (1968) and The Mousy King(1968, puppet play), were not staged for the same reason.
His first play to premiere on stage was Music from Shatrovets (played with enormous success at the Blagoevgrad Theatre in 1973 and 1974). Next came The Window (1978), Basils for Draginko (1979), Easter Wine (1980), Nirvana (1983), Odysseus Travels to Ithaca (1984), Red Wine for Goodbye (1990), Lame-Leg or Lupine Holy Mother (1995), Francesca (2002) and Beethoven 21 (2006), Golden Bridges and Sequoia (2011), The Observers (2015).

Books of prose: French Donkey (1988) – a novel, The Defeat. A Chronicle From The Short Century (2003) – an autobiographical book, The Memory of the Raven (2005), Easter Wine and Frankenstein (2013) and Words off Stage (2017) - texts on theatre, drama and politics.

He is a translator from German (Buechner, Brecht). He took part in the First Bonn Biennial New European Plays (1992) with a reading of his texts and in the Third Bonn Biennial (1996) with a performance of his play Nirvana.

Since 1973, he has been a dramaturge at various theatres – in Blagoevgrad until 1978, and then in Sofia. From 1995 until 2007, he has been Head Dramaturge at the Ivan Vazov National Theatre in Sofia.

Konstantin Iliev's plays have been staged in all Bulgarian professional theatres, as well as in Austria, the UK, France, Estonia, Macedonia, Poland, Russia, Slovakia and elsewhere.

He has won numerous national awards for playwrights. In 1989 his book French Donkey (a love story set in the 1960s) won a national competition for best novel of the year. In 1996 the University of Vienna granted him the international Herder Prize for overall achievement. In 2003 his book The Defeat won the Helicon Prize for New Bulgarian Fiction, in 2005 the Elias Canetti Literary Prize. Konstantin Iliev is the recipient of the National "Hristo G. Danov" Overall Award for Contribution to Bulgarian Literary Culture (2012) and of the Askeer 2017 Prize for his Overall Contribution to the Art of Theatre.

Married, with one daughter.

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