Miklós Radnóti was born on May 5, 1909, in Budapest into a Jewish family. Radnóti's mother, Ilona Grosz, died while giving birth to him and his twin brother, who was stillborn. When he was 12 Radnóti lost his father, Jakab Glatter, who had remarried Ilka Molnár - he died of brain thrombosis.
Most of Radnóti's ancestors earned their living in occupations typical for Jews living in the countryside at that time - they were small shopkeepers, vendors, or itinerant peddlers. On his father's side, they also included two painters. Jakab worked as a traveling salesman in his brother-in-law's textile firm. He taught Radnóti Jewish prayers and rituals. Radnóti was not told about his mother's and twin brother's death until he was ten.