Menno ter Braak is mostly known as the editor of Forum magazine, which he founded in the early 1930s with E. du Perron. Ter Braak studied history in Amsterdam and during this time he was the editor of student magazine Propria Cures. In the following years, he moved in the circles of modernist youth magazine De Vrije Bladen, was one of the initiators of the Filmliga (Film League) and wrote reviews for the Nieuwe Rotterdamsche Courant.
In 1933, Ter Braak worked as an art editor for The Hague newspaper Het Vaderland, mainly writing literature and theatre reviews. He also wrote two novels, but his interest lay mainly in his essayistic work, in which he agitated against the halfheartedness and blandness that in his perception dominated cultural life in the interbellum years.
From his first major work, Carnaval der burgers ('Carnival of Citizens', 1930) to Van oude en nieuwe christenen ('Of old and new Christians', 1937), Ter Braak kept entering into battle with opponents. He also wrote smaller essays like Mephistophelisch (1938), as well as studies on Multatuli and Simon Vestdijk.
The political developments in the 1930s increasingly forced Ter Braak to take a stand. In 1934, he was one of the founders of the Comité van Waakzaamheid ('Committee of Vigilance') of anti-Nazi intellectuals. He ended his life after the German invasion.