Famous 18th Century German Writers

Find out more about the greatest 18th Century German Writers, including Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Friedrich Schiller, Adam Weishaupt, Heinrich Heine and Gotthold Ephraim Lessing.

This ranking is based on an algorithm that combines various factors, including the votes of our users and search trends on the internet.

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 1 Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.
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Famous As: Poet, Playwright, Novelist
Birthdate: August 28, 1749
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Goethe House, Frankfurt, Germany
Died: March 22, 1832

Regarded as the greatest literary figure in Germany's modern era, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe was a statesman and writer. Apart from writing poetry and prose, he also wrote treatises on color, anatomy, and botany. Thanks to his literary genius, Goethe was made part of the Duke's privy council in Weimar and he implemented several reforms at the University of Jena.

 2 Friedrich Schiller

Friedrich Schiller.
4
Famous As: Poet, Playwright, Historian & Philosopher
Birthdate: November 10, 1759
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Marbach am Neckar, Germany
Died: May 9, 1805

Friedrich Schiller was a German poet, physician, philosopher, playwright, and historian. Schiller is best remembered for his friendship with Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and the two discussed issues concerning aesthetics. Schiller's discussions with Goethe paved the way for a period, which came to be known as Weimar Classicism. Friedrich Schiller is also widely regarded as Germany's most prominent classical playwright.

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 3 E. T. A. Hoffmann

E. T. A. Hoffmann.
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Famous As: Author
Birthdate: January 24, 1776
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Königsberg, Germany
Died: June 25, 1822

E. T. A. Hoffmann was a German author, jurist, artist, composer, and music critic. His stories served as an inspiration and laid the foundation for The Tales of Hoffmann by Jacques Offenbach. The Nutcracker by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky is also based on Hoffmann's The Nutcracker and the Mouse King. Hoffmann is among the most influential authors of the Romantic Movement.

 4 Jacob Grimm

Jacob Grimm.
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Famous As: Philologist
Birthdate: January 4, 1785
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Hanau, Germany
Died: September 20, 1863

Part of the legendary folklorist duo known as the Brothers Grimm, Jacob Grimm gave to the world Grimm’s Fairy Tales, along with his younger brother, Wilhelm Grimm. The son of a lawyer, he, too, had initially studied law. He also contributed immensely to Germanic linguistics, with his Grimm's law.

 5 Johann Gottfried Herder

Johann Gottfried Herder.
3
Famous As: Philosopher
Birthdate: August 25, 1744
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Morąg, Poland
Died: December 18, 1803

German philosopher Johann Gottfried Herder is best remembered as a significant figure of the Sturm und Drang literary movement. Born into poverty and largely self-educated till 17, he later became a disciple of Immanuel Kant and was associated with Enlightenment and Weimar Classicism. He was eventually ennobled.

 6 Novalis

Novalis.
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Famous As: Philosopher & Poet
Birthdate: May 2, 1772
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Oberwiederstedt, Electorate of Saxony, Germany
Died: March 25, 1801

Poet and philosopher Friedrich Leopold, better known as Novalis, was a significant figure of German Romanticism. He narrated the loss of his 15-year-old fiancé to tuberculosis in his Hymns to the Night. He himself died of the disease a few years later. He was also well-versed in natural sciences.

 7 Gotthold Ephraim Lessing

Gotthold Ephraim Lessing
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Famous As: Writer, Philosopher, Playwright, Poet, Librarian, Theologian, Dramaturge, Literary critic, Journalist
Birthdate: January 22, 1729
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Kamenz
Died: February 15, 1781

Gotthold Ephraim Lessing was a noted German dramatist, critic, and author, remembered especially for his contribution towards liberating German theatre from the influence of its classical and French counterpart. Known for such literary masterpieces like Miss Sara Sampson; Emilia Galotti; Minna von Barnhelm; Nathan the Wise; Laocoön; Hamburg Dramaturgy, he is now considered an outstanding representative of the Enlightenment era.

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 8 Wilhelm Grimm

Wilhelm Grimm
3
Famous As: Lexicographer, Anthropologist, Librarian, Writer, Law librarian, Children's writer, Educationist, Linguist, Specialist in literature, Germanist, Jurist, University teacher, Poet lawyer, Mythographer
Birthdate: February 24, 1786
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Hanau
Died: December 16, 1859

 9 Baron d'Holbach

Baron d'Holbach
3
Famous As: Author
Birthdate: December 8, 1723
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Edesheim, Germany
Died: January 21, 1789

 10 Jean Paul

Jean Paul.
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Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: March 21, 1763
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Wunsiedel, Holy Roman Empire
Died: November 14, 1825

Jean Paul was a German writer best remembered for his humorous stories and novels. While many of his fans hold him in high regard, his critics treat his work with indifference. Due to such a disparity, Paul holds an unusual position in German literary history. Robert Schumann admired Jean Paul's works, which served as an inspiration to the former's Papillons

 11 Heinrich von Kleist

Heinrich von Kleist
3
Famous As: Poet
Birthdate: October 18, 1777
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Frankfurt an der Oder, Germany
Died: November 21, 1811

Dissatisfied with his army career, Heinrich von Kleist had also studied law and math but quit studies later to devote himself to writing. Part of German Romanticism, he penned iconic plays such as The Schroffenstein Family and Hermann’s Battle. He eventually shot himself and his lover Henriette in a murder-suicide.

 12 Emanuel Schikaneder

Emanuel Schikaneder
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Famous As: Impresario
Birthdate: September 1, 1751
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Straubing, Germany
Died: September 21, 1812

 13 Adolf Franz Friedrich, Freiherr von Knigge

Adolf Franz Friedrich, Freiherr von Knigge
2
Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: October 16, 1752
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Bredenbeck, Germany
Died: May 6, 1796

 14 Joseph Freiherr von Eichendorff

Joseph Freiherr von Eichendorff
2
Famous As: Poet
Birthdate: March 10, 1788
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Łubowice, Poland
Died: November 26, 1857

German Romantic lyricist Joseph Freiherr von Eichendorff is best remembered for his epic poem Robert und Guiscard, which highlights the French Revolution. His prose works such as Memoirs of a Good-for-Nothing, revolving around themes such as love, too, gained him fame. He also worked in the civil services

 15 Friedrich Heinrich Jacobi

Friedrich Heinrich Jacobi
2
Famous As: Philosopher
Birthdate: January 25, 1743
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Düsseldorf, Germany
Died: March 10, 1819

 16 Bettina von Arnim

Bettina von Arnim
2
Famous As: Writer, Salon-holder, Composer, Novelist
Birthdate: April 4, 1785
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Frankfurt
Died: January 20, 1859

 17 Georg Forster

Georg Forster
2
Famous As: Naturalist
Birthdate: November 27, 1754
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Mokry Dwór, Poland
Died: January 10, 1794

 18 August Wilhelm Schlegel

August Wilhelm Schlegel
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Famous As: Linguist, Translator, Sanskrit scholar, Philosopher, Poet, Literary critic, Literary historian, Romanist, Playwright, University teacher, Writer, Indologist
Birthdate: September 8, 1767
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Hanover
Died: May 12, 1845

 19 Clemens Brentano

Clemens Brentano
2
Famous As: Poet
Birthdate: September 9, 1778
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Ehrenbreitstein Fortress, Koblenz, Germany
Died: July 28, 1842

 20 Johann Zahn

Johann Zahn
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Famous As: Author
Birthdate: March 29, 1641
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Karlstadt am Main, Germany
Died: June 27, 1707

 21 Ludwig Tieck

Ludwig Tieck
2
Famous As: Poet
Birthdate: May 31, 1773
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Berlin, Germany
Died: April 28, 1853

 22 August Heinrich Hoffmann von Fallersleben

August Heinrich Hoffmann von Fallersleben
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Famous As: Poet
Birthdate: April 2, 1798
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Fallersleben, Wolfsburg, Germany
Died: January 19, 1874

 23 Christoph Martin Wieland

Christoph Martin Wieland
2
Famous As: Poet
Birthdate: September 5, 1733
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Achstetten, Germany
Died: January 20, 1813

 24 Anton Schindler

Anton Schindler
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Famous As: Conductor, Writer, Musicologist, Music historian, Biographer, Composer
Birthdate: June 13, 1795
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Medlov
Died: January 16, 1864

 25 Friedrich Schlegel

Friedrich Schlegel
2
Famous As: Poet
Birthdate: March 10, 1772
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Hannover, Germany
Died: January 12, 1829

 26 Friedrich de la Motte Fouqué

Friedrich de la Motte Fouqué
2
Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: February 12, 1777
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Brandenburg, Germany
Died: January 23, 1843

 27 August von Kotzebue

August von Kotzebue
2
Famous As: Playwright
Birthdate: May 3, 1761
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Weimar, Germany
Died: March 23, 1819

 28 Friedrich Rückert

Friedrich Rückert
2
Famous As: Poet
Birthdate: May 16, 1788
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Schweinfurt, Germany
Died: January 31, 1866

 29 Adelbert von Chamisso

Adelbert von Chamisso
2
Famous As: Poet
Birthdate: January 30, 1781
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Sivry-Ante, France
Died: August 21, 1838

 30 Engelbert Kaempfer

Engelbert Kaempfer
2
Famous As: Naturalist
Birthdate: September 16, 1651
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Lemgo, Germany
Died: November 2, 1716

Seventeenth-century German physician and traveler Engelbert Kaempfer had been on trade missions across the world, including places such as Russia, Iran, Java, and Japan. His written experiences about his stay in Japan became a valuable source of information on the flora and fauna of the country.

 31 Francis Daniel Pastorius

Francis Daniel Pastorius
2
Famous As: Educator
Birthdate: September 26, 1651
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Sommerhausen, Germany
Died: 1720 AD

 32 Adolf Brand

Adolf Brand
2
Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: November 14, 1874
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Berlin, Germany
Died: February 2, 1945

 33 Ernst Moritz Arndt

Ernst Moritz Arndt
2
Famous As: Historian
Birthdate: December 26, 1769
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Rügen, Germany
Died: January 29, 1860

 34 Rudolf Erich Raspe

Rudolf Erich Raspe
3
Famous As: Librarian
Birthdate: February 29, 1736
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Hannover, Germany
Died: November 1, 1794

 35 Wilhelm Müller

Wilhelm Müller
2
Famous As: Poet
Birthdate: October 7, 1794
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Dessau, Dessau-Roßlau, Germany
Died: September 30, 1827

 36 Rahel Varnhagen

Rahel Varnhagen
2
Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: May 19, 1771
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Berlin, Germany
Died: March 7, 1833

 37 Anacharsis Cloots

Anacharsis Cloots
2
Famous As: Politician
Birthdate: June 24, 1755
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Kleve, Germany
Died: March 24, 1794

Anacharsis Cloots was a Prussian nobleman who played a significant role in the French Revolution. Born into a wealthy family, he spent his youth traveling across the world preaching his revolutionary ideas. He was a world federalist and is believed to be the first person to advocate a world parliament. He was nicknamed "a personal enemy of God." 

 38 Leo von Klenze

Leo von Klenze
2
Famous As: Architect
Birthdate: February 29, 1784
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Schladen, Germany
Died: January 26, 1864

 39 Barthold Georg Niebuhr

Barthold Georg Niebuhr
2
Famous As: Statesman
Birthdate: August 27, 1776
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Copenhagen, Denmark
Died: January 2, 1831

 40 Ferdinand Christian Baur

Ferdinand Christian Baur
2
Famous As: Theologian
Birthdate: June 21, 1792
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Schmiden, Germany
Died: December 2, 1860

 41 Ludwig Uhland

Ludwig Uhland
2
Famous As: Poet
Birthdate: April 26, 1787
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Tübingen, Germany
Died: November 13, 1862

 42 Johann Kuhnau

Johann Kuhnau
2
Famous As: Polymath
Birthdate: April 6, 1660
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Geising, Germany
Died: June 5, 1722

 43 August Hermann Francke

August Hermann Francke
2
Famous As: Theologian
Birthdate: March 22, 1663
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Lübeck, Germany
Died: June 8, 1727

Remembered as one of the chief figures of German Pietism, August Hermann Francke had also been a professor of theology at the University of Halle. Though criticized by radical Lutherans, his social activism saw him providing education and essentials for the poor at his Francke Foundations.  

 44 Johanna Schopenhauer

Johanna Schopenhauer
2
Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: July 9, 1766
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Gdańsk, Poland
Died: April 17, 1838

 45 Kristijonas Donelaitis

Kristijonas Donelaitis
2
Famous As: Poet
Birthdate: January 1, 1714
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Lasdinehlen
Died: February 18, 1780

Prussian Lithuanian poet Kristijonas Donelaitis had mastered theology and classical languages and also served as a pastor of Tolmingkehmen. His best-known work, Metai, or The Seasons, was penned in hexameters, a style never used before in Lithuanian verse. He had also written Lithuanian fables based on Aesop's Fables.

 46 Charlotte von Stein

Charlotte von Stein
1
Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: December 25, 1742
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Eisenach, Germany
Died: January 6, 1827

 47 Wilhelm Gesenius

Wilhelm Gesenius
1
Famous As: Biblical critic
Birthdate: February 3, 1786
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Nordhausen, Germany
Died: October 23, 1842

 48 Ignaz von Döllinger

Ignaz von Döllinger
1
Famous As: Theologian
Birthdate: February 28, 1799
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Bamberg, Germany
Died: January 10, 1890

 49 Matthias Claudius

Matthias Claudius
1
Famous As: Poet
Birthdate: August 15, 1740
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Reinfeld, Germany
Died: January 21, 1815

 50 Gottfried August Bürger

Gottfried August Bürger
1
Famous As: Poet
Birthdate: December 31, 1747
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Molmerswende, Mansfeld, Germany
Died: June 8, 1794