Josef Vachal was born on the 23rd of September 1884, in the village of Milavce in south-west Bohemia, not far from the fabled forest region of Sumava the artist would adore for most of his life. But, he was not raised there, nor was his childhood a happy one: Vachal had been born a bastard son. He would never experience the grace of a normal family upbringing, but would be raised by his grandparents instead, in the south Bohemian town of Pisek. Only when he began to grow wayward in school in his early teens, did his father finally intervene, sending the boy to study bookbinding in Prague, a decision that had a major impact on Vachal's future artistic career. In Prague Vachal would be inspired to begin drawing and painting, and knowledge of hand-printing and hand-binding of books would become dominant tools in the artist's trade.
After communist revolution of 1948 in Czechoslovakia, he became a banned author for his anticommunist views; also the house and property of his girlfriend in eastern Bohemia were confiscated. During this time he earned his only money by illegal distributing, because he was not member of official communist artist guild, of his older works of art. And being that he was not a guild member, he could not be an official artist which meant that he was unemployed, criminal offence under communism. In 1960s living in destitution; being hungry most days, drinking water made of snow, and sleeping with all of his clothes because of cold, he refused to allow the communists to prepare any exhibition of his works, although they tried to get him to collaborate with them