Famous 19th Century German Writers

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 1 
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
(Novelist Best Known for 'The Sorrows of Young Werther', the First Novel of The Sturm Und Drang Movement)

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
18
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 
Hermann Hesse
(Author Known for His Works 'Demian', 'Steppenwolf', 'Siddhartha' and 'The Glass Bead Game')

Hermann Hesse
6
Birthdate: July 2, 1877
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Calw, Germany
Died: August 9, 1962

German-born Swiss poet, novelist, and painter Hermann Hesse received the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1946. He explored individuals’ search for authenticity, self-knowledge, and spirituality in his works. An intense and headstrong person from childhood, he developed an early interest in reading. He started writing as a young man and became an influential author in the German-speaking world. 

 3 
Friedrich Schiller
(Playwright and Poet Known for His Works 'The Robbers', 'Don Carlos' and 'Mary Stuart')

Friedrich Schiller
4
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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 4 
Friedrich Nietzsche
(German Philosopher, Cultural Critic and Philologist)

Friedrich Nietzsche
5
Birthdate: October 15, 1844
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Röcken, Lützen, Germany
Died: August 25, 1900

German philosopher, cultural critic, composer, and poet Friedrich Nietzsche has had a profound influence on modern intellectual history. He held the Chair of Classical Philology at the University of Basel. His work spanned philosophical polemics, poetry, cultural criticism, and fiction. He suffered from numerous health problems from a young age and died at the age of 55.

 5 
Richard Wagner
(Known for His Operas and Music Dramas ‘Der Ring des Nibelungen’ and ‘Tristan und Isolde’)

Richard Wagner
4
Birthdate: May 22, 1813
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Leipzig, Germany
Died: February 13, 1883
German composer and conductor Richard Wagner is best remembered for his operas and music dramas. He explored the concept of Gesamtkunstwerk, which combined many forms of art, including the visual, poetic, and musical. He also established the opera house Bayreuth Festspielhaus, which hosted his works The Ring and Parsifal.

 6 
Friedrich Engels
(German Philosopher Who Developed 'Marxism' Together With Karl Max)

Friedrich Engels
4
Birthdate: November 28, 1820
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Barmen, Germany
Died: August 5, 1895

Friedrich Engels was a German philosopher, political scientist, and revolutionary socialist. Along with Karl Marx, Engels helped develop Marxism, which has had a profound impact on fields like philosophy and anthropology. Engels is credited with helping Marx publish Das Kapital, a foundational theoretical work in politics, economics, and materialist philosophy. He also co-authored influential political documents like The Communist Manifesto.

 7 
Thomas Mann
(German Novelist Who Won the 1929 Nobel Prize in Literature)

Thomas Mann
4
Birthdate: June 6, 1875
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Lübeck, Germany
Died: August 12, 1955
German author Thomas Mann, known for his epic novels, was part of the Hanseatic Mann family of authors. He depicted his own family in his novel Buddenbrooks. He won the 1929 Nobel Prize in Literature. During Hitler’s reign, he fled to Switzerland and then to the U.S.
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 8 
Heinrich Heine
(German Poet & Literary Critic Know for His Works 'Germany. A Winter's Tale' and 'Buch der Lieder')

Heinrich Heine
3
Birthdate: December 13, 1797
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Düsseldorf, Germany
Died: February 17, 1856

Heinrich Heine was a German poet, literary critic, and writer. He is known internationally for his lyric poetry, which was popularized by composers like Franz Schubert and Robert Schumann who adapted Heine's lyric poetry into art songs. Heinrich Heine's radical political views forced the German authorities to ban his works, which only added to his popularity.

 9 
Franz Halder
(Former general, chief of staff of the Army High Command (OKH) in Nazi Germany from 1938 until September 1942)

Franz Halder
3
Birthdate: June 30, 1884
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Würzburg, Germany
Died: April 2, 1972

Franz Halder, the son of an army officer, became the Chief of General Staff of the German army, replacing General Ludwig Beck. He later became the Commander in Chief but was replaced due to disagreements with Hitler. He later testified against major Nazi officials in the Nuremberg War Crimes Trial.

 10 
Georg Büchner
(Dramatist)

Georg Büchner
3
Birthdate: October 17, 1813
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Riedstadt, Germany
Died: February 19, 1837

Part of the Young Germany movement, German dramatist and author Georg Büchner was a revolutionary and a master of Expressionist plays. Born to an army doctor, he studied medicine but also simultaneously participated in pamphleteering for social issues. He is remembered for works such as Danton’s Death and Woyzeck.

 11 

E. T. A. Hoffmann
3
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.

 12 
Jacob Grimm
(Discoverer of ‘Grimm’s Law of Linguistics' and Co-author of the Largest German Dictionary 'Deutsches Wörterbuch')

Jacob Grimm
3
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.

 13 
Otto Strasser
(Journalist, Politician, Writer)

Otto Strasser
3
Birthdate: September 10, 1897
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Bad Windsheim
Died: August 27, 1974

 14 

Dietrich Eckart
4
Birthdate: March 23, 1868
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Neumarkt in der Oberpfalz, Germany
Died: December 26, 1923

German anti-Semitic völkisch poet, playwright, journalist, publicist, and political activist Dietrich Eckart, one of Adolf Hitler's earliest mentors who Hitler acknowledged as the spiritual co-founder of Nazism, founded German Workers' Party, the precursor of Nazi Party. Eckart was the original publisher of the Nazi Party newspaper Völkischer Beobachter, and lyricist of Sturmlied, the de facto anthem of the Sturmabteilung.

 15 
Karl May
(Former Writer known for his adventure novels set in the Old American West and featuring the characters of Winnetou and Old Shatterhand)

Karl May
3
Birthdate: February 25, 1842
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Hohenstein-Ernstthal, Germany
Died: March 30, 1912

German author Karl May is best remembered for his travel and adventure tales, which narrate stories set in the Middle East and other lands. His best-known works include The Treasure in the Silver Lake. He developed his love for literature after reading voraciously while in prison for fraud.

 16 
Lou Andreas-Salomé
(Psychoanalyst)

Lou Andreas-Salomé
3
Birthdate: February 12, 1861
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Saint Petersburg, Russia
Died: February 5, 1937

Russian-born German author Lou Andreas-Salomé apparently rejected renowned philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche’s marriage proposal and then married a professor instead. A skilled psychoanalyst, she was also close to Rainer Maria Rilke and Sigmund Freud. She was one of the first to offer a psychoanalytic perspective to female sexuality.

Friedrich Hölderlin
3
Birthdate: March 20, 1770
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Lauffen am Neckar, Germany
Died: June 7, 1843

German lyric poet and dramatist Friedrich Hölderlin was a significant figure of German Romanticism. Initially pushed to join a Christian ministry by his mother, he later ditched the idea and was inspired by Greek mythology. He later suffered from schizophrenia and spent 36 years in a tower, later named the Hölderlinturm.

 18 
Eduard Bernstein
(Former social democratic Marxist theorist)

Eduard Bernstein
3
Birthdate: January 6, 1850
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Berlin, Germany
Died: December 18, 1932

Though a staunch socialist and Marxist, Eduard Bernstein was also one of the biggest critics of Marxist theory and thus gained the nickname The Father of Revisionism. He spotted many loopholes in Karl Marx’s tenets, such as the eventual collapse of the capitalist economy. He also represented Brandenburg in the Reichstag.

Elisabeth Förster-Nietzsche
3
Birthdate: July 10, 1846
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Röcken
Died: November 8, 1935

 20 
Wilhelm Grimm
(Lexicographer, Anthropologist, Librarian, Writer, Law librarian, Children's writer, Educationist, Linguist, Specialist in literature, Germanist, Jurist, University teacher, Poet lawyer, Mythographer)

Wilhelm Grimm
3
Birthdate: February 24, 1786
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Hanau
Died: December 16, 1859

 21 
Karl Haushofer
(Geopolitician, Political scientist, Educationist, Officer, University teacher, Non-fiction writer)

Karl Haushofer
3
Birthdate: August 27, 1869
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Munich
Died: March 10, 1946

 22 

Theodor Storm
2
Birthdate: September 14, 1817
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Husum, Germany
Died: July 4, 1888

 23 
B. Traven
(Novelist)

B. Traven
3
Birthdate: February 23, 1882
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Swiebodzin, Poland
Died: March 26, 1969

Best known for his adventure tales and chronicles of rural Mexican society, German author B. Traven was a living enigma, as his real name remains unknown. Some believe he was the German revolutionary Ret Marut. His work The Treasure of the Sierra Madre was later made into an Academy Award-winning film.

 24 
Thea von Harbou
(Screenwriter)

Thea von Harbou
3
Birthdate: December 27, 1888
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Tauperlitz, Döhlau, Germany
Died: July 1, 1954

 25 

Victor Klemperer
3
Birthdate: October 9, 1881
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Gorzów Wielkopolski, Poland
Died: February 11, 1960

 26 
Jean Paul
(Romantic Writer)

Jean Paul
4
Birthdate: March 21, 1763
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Wunsiedel, Germany
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

 27 
Ferdinand Lassalle
(Writer, Politician, Economist, Lawyer, Philosopher)

Ferdinand Lassalle
3
Birthdate: April 11, 1825
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Wrocław
Died: August 31, 1864

Enamoured by the ideas of French and German philosophers, Ferdinand Lassalle initially aspired to be a lecturer. He later joined the socialist cause and spearheaded Germany’s social democratic movement. He also introduced terms such as the iron law of wages and concepts such as Lassallism, or achieving socialist ideals through the state.

 28 
Hugo Ball
(Author)

Hugo Ball
3
Birthdate: February 22, 1886
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Pirmasens, Germany
Died: September 14, 1927

Author, poet and dramatist Hugo Ball was also a harsh social critic and a staunch pacifist. Known for his works like Critique of German Intelligence and The Flight from Time, he left Germany during WWI to settle down in neutral Switzerland, eventually becoming famous as the founder of the Dada movement and a pioneer in the development of sound poetry.

 29 
Anita Berber
(Dancer)

Anita Berber
3
Birthdate: June 10, 1899
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Leipzig, Germany
Died: November 10, 1928

Anita Berber was a German dancer, writer, and actress. Berber's addiction to drugs and her choice of clothing in public events, which challenged social taboos at that time, overshadowed her professional achievements. In addition to her personal life, Anita Berber also achieved notoriety as a dancer; some of her performances featured total nudity. She died of tuberculosis at age 29.

 30 
Arnold Ehret
(Educator)

Arnold Ehret
3
Birthdate: July 29, 1866
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Freiburg im Breisgau, Germany
Died: October 10, 1922

 31 
Ilse Pröhl
(Rudolf Hess' wife)

Ilse Pröhl
3
Birthdate: June 22, 1900
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Hanover, Germany
Died: September 7, 1995

 32 
Philipp Mainlander
(Philosopher)

Philipp Mainlander
3
Birthdate: October 5, 1841
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Offenbach, Germany
Died: April 1, 1876

Philipp Mainlander was unfortunately born out of marital rape and was later forced by his father to train to be a merchant. However, while working in Italy, he devoted himself to writing. His works include the iconic The Philosophy of Redemption. He eventually committed suicide by hanging.

 33 
Heinrich von Kleist
(One of the Leading Lights of German Literary Romanticism)

Heinrich von Kleist
3
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.

Else Lasker-Schüler
3
Birthdate: February 11, 1869
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Elberfeld, Wuppertal, Germany
Died: January 22, 1945

One of the rare female Expressionist authors, Else Lasker-Schüler is best remembered for plays such as Die Wupper. Known for her bohemian and eccentric lifestyle, she fled the Nazis and moved first to Switzerland and then to Jerusalem. Owing to her extravagant expenses, she died in poverty.

 35 
August Bebel
(Former Politician best remembered as one of the founders of the Social Democratic Workers' Party of Germany (SDAP) in 1869)

August Bebel
3
Birthdate: February 22, 1840
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Deutz, Cologne, Germany
Died: August 13, 1913

 36 
Heinrich Mann
(Novelist)

Heinrich Mann
3
Birthdate: March 27, 1871
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Lübeck, Germany
Died: March 11, 1950

 37 

Elizabeth von Arnim
3
Birthdate: August 31, 1866
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Kirribilli Point, Australia
Died: February 9, 1941

 38 

Karl Heinrich Ulrichs
3
Birthdate: August 28, 1825
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Aurich, Germany
Died: July 14, 1895

 39 

Werner Lindemann
2
Birthdate: October 7, 1926
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Germany
Died: February 9, 1993

Better known as the father of Rammstein lead singer Till Lindemann, Werner Lindemann was a children’s poet and author. Born to farmers, Werner grew up to join the German Army and then dabbled in editing and freelance writing. He lived at the Drispeth Artist's Colony, founded by him.

 40 
Theodor Busse
(Soldier, Writer, Officer)

Theodor Busse
3
Birthdate: December 15, 1897
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Frankfurt (Oder)
Died: October 21, 1986

 41 
Kurt von Tippelskirch
(Military personnel, Military historian, Non-fiction writer)

Kurt von Tippelskirch
3
Birthdate: October 9, 1891
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Charlottenburg
Died: May 10, 1957

 42 
Theodor Fontane
(Poet, Novelist)

Theodor Fontane
3
Birthdate: December 30, 1819
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Neuruppin, Germany
Died: September 20, 1898

The pioneer of German realist fiction, Theodor Fontane started as a journalist before venturing into a writing career at the ripe age of 58. He had also briefly been an apothecary, following in his father’s footsteps. His novels such as Effi Briest talk about the plight of women.

 43 
Gerhart Hauptmann
(Novelist, Dramatist)

Gerhart Hauptmann
3
Birthdate: November 15, 1862
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Szczawno-Zdrój, Poland
Died: June 6, 1946

Nobel Prize-winning German author Gerhart Hauptmann initially trained and worked as a sculptor but later deviated to poetry and drama. Known for works such as The Weavers and Before Dawn, he is considered one of the pioneers of literary naturalism. His novel Atlantis inspired a Danish silent movie.

 44 
Frank Wedekind
(Playwright)

Frank Wedekind
3
Birthdate: July 24, 1864
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Hanover
Died: March 9, 1918

 45 
Alfred Doblin
(Novelist)

Alfred Doblin
3
Birthdate: August 10, 1878
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Szczecin, Poland
Died: June 26, 1957

Alfred Doblin was a German novelist, essayist, and doctor. He is considered one of the most important figures of German literary modernism. A prolific writer with a career spanning more than half a century, he wrote novels, dramas, screenplays, and radio plays across a range of genres. Despite the popularity he once enjoyed, he is believed to be under-recognized. 

 46 

Siegfried Kracauer
3
Birthdate: February 8, 1889
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Frankfurt, Germany
Died: November 26, 1966

 47 
Paul Rée
(Writer)

Paul Rée
2
Birthdate: November 21, 1849
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Bartelshagen, Germany
Died: October 28, 1901

German author and philosopher Paul Rée, whose writings influenced much of his friend Friedrich Nietzsche’s works, was born to affluent Jewish parents. While he initially studied philosophy and law, Rée later became a physician. He died while hiking on the Swiss Alps, though some feel he had committed suicide.

 48 
David Strauss
(Theologian)

David Strauss
3
Birthdate: January 27, 1808
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Ludwigsburg, Germany
Died: February 8, 1874

Protestant theologian David Strauss was 12 when he joined a seminary to study theology. Known for his works such as Das Leben Jesu, or The Life of Jesus Critically Examined, he criticized the Gospels and the miracles associated with Christ, thus inspiring future studies on the historical Jesus.

 49 
Marie d'Agoult
(French author)

Marie d'Agoult
3
Birthdate: December 31, 1805
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Frankfurt am Main, Germany
Died: March 5, 1876

 50 
Felix Hoffmann
(Chemist, Inventor, Pharmacist, Non-fiction writer)

Felix Hoffmann
2
Birthdate: January 21, 1868
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Ludwigsburg
Died: February 8, 1946

Felix Hoffmann was a German chemist best remembered for re-synthesizing diamorphine, which was later popularized as heroin. Hoffmann is also known for synthesizing aspirin, although it is still unclear whether he synthesized it on his own or under the direction of Arthur Eichengrün. In 2002, Felix Hoffmann was inducted into the US National Inventors Hall of Fame.