Famous German Essayists

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 Walter Benjamin

Walter Benjamin.
Famous As: Philosopher, Cultural Critic, Essayist
Birthdate: July 15, 1892
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Berlin, Germany
Died: September 27, 1940

Walter Benjamin was a German Jewish essayist, philosopher, and cultural critic. An eclectic thinker, Benjamin made significant contributions to literary criticism, aesthetic theory, and historical materialism. Although Benjamin's work did not earn much recognition during his lifetime, it continues to be revered by academics several years after his death.

 2 Max Weber

Max Weber.
Famous As: Sociologist
Birthdate: April 21, 1864
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Erfurt, Germany
Died: June 14, 1920

Max Weber was a German historian, political economist, jurist, and sociologist. Widely regarded as one of the most influential and important theorists, Weber's ideas had a profound influence on social research and social theory. Although he did not see himself as a sociologist, Weber is often counted among the fathers of sociology alongside Émile Durkheim, Auguste Comte, and Karl Marx.

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 3 Theodor W. Adorno

Theodor W. Adorno.
Famous As: Philosopher
Birthdate: September 11, 1903
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Frankfurt, Germany
Died: August 6, 1969

One of the most prominent intellectuals of the 20th century, Theodor Adorno was a pioneer of the Frankfurt School of Critical Theory and despised the culture industry. Born to a singer mother, the German sociologist grew up amid music and could even play Beethoven on the piano by 12.

 4 Lou Andreas-Salomé

Lou Andreas-Salomé.
Famous As: Psychoanalyst
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.

 5 Thomas Mann

Thomas Mann.
Famous As: Novelist, Short Story Writer
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.

 6 Rainer Werner Fassbinder

Rainer Werner Fassbinder
Famous As: Film maker
Birthdate: May 31, 1945
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Bad Wörishofen, Germany
Died: June 10, 1982

 7 Herta Müller

Herta Müller.
Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: August 17, 1953
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Nițchidorf

Nobel Prize-winning author Herta Müller grew up under the dictatorial regime of Nicolae Ceaușescu in Romania. She was fired from her first job for not co-operating with the Romanian secret police. Her works, such as Oppressive Tango and The Passport, mirror the oppression of Germans she has witnessed in Romania.

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 8 Alfred Doblin

Alfred Doblin.
Famous As: Writer, Doctor
Birthdate: August 10, 1878
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Szczecin
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. 

 9 Christa Wolf

Christa Wolf
Famous As: Novelist
Birthdate: March 18, 1929
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Gorzów Wielkopolski, Poland
Died: December 1, 2011

 10 Heiner Müller

Heiner Müller
Famous As: Dramatist
Birthdate: January 9, 1929
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Eppendorf, Germany
Died: December 30, 1995

 11 Golo Mann

Golo Mann
Famous As: Historian
Birthdate: March 27, 1909
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Munich, Germany
Died: April 7, 1994

 12 Gottfried Benn

Gottfried Benn
Famous As: Poet
Birthdate: May 2, 1886
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Putlitz, Germany
Died: June 7, 1956

 13 Erich Mühsam

Erich Mühsam
Famous As: Essayist
Birthdate: April 6, 1878
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Berlin, Germany
Died: July 10, 1934

 14 Siegfried Lenz

Siegfried Lenz
Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: March 17, 1926
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Elk, Poland
Died: October 7, 2014

 15 Helmut Lachenmann

Helmut Lachenmann
Famous As: Composer
Birthdate: November 27, 1935
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Stuttgart, Germany

 16 Anacharsis Cloots

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

 17 Sibylle Berg

Sibylle Berg
Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: June 2, 1968
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Weimar, Bezirk Erfurt, Germany

 18 Luise Rinser

Luise Rinser
Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: April 30, 1911
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Pitzling, Germany
Died: March 17, 2002

Initially a teacher, Luise Rinser later joined the Frauenschaft. She was later imprisoned for not supporting the Nazis. Her experiences in the prison were collected in Prison Journal, which became a bestseller. The German author was quite politically active in her country and was well-traveled too.

 19 Martin Mosebach

Martin Mosebach
Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: July 31, 1951
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Frankfurt, Germany

 20 Marie Luise Kaschnitz

Marie Luise Kaschnitz
Famous As: Short Story Writer
Birthdate: January 31, 1901
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Karlsruhe, Germany
Died: October 10, 1974

 21 Frank Schirrmacher

Frank Schirrmacher
Famous As: Journalist
Birthdate: September 5, 1959
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Wiesbaden, Germany
Died: June 12, 2014

 22 René Schickele

René Schickele
Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: August 4, 1883
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Obernai, France
Died: January 31, 1940

 23 Paul Ernst

Paul Ernst
Famous As: German writer
Birthdate: March 7, 1866
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Elbingerode, Germany
Died: May 13, 1933