Famous German Novelists

For reading aficionados and book lovers, a new novel is like a new attire - the excitement and charm only ends after reading (wearing) it once! Interestingly, if you have a friend or relative or best if you, yourself, cannot go without reading even for a single day, you would well be aware of the joy of having hands on a new book. Book lovers do not restrain their reading spirit to but a single genre/language/author and mostly read works by different authors and writers across the globe in varying genres/languages. While America has given readers a handsome list of novelists and writers, Germany isn’t far behind. From the classics by Karl August von Heigel, Hermann Hesse and Karl May to the 19th century litterateurs Hans Peter Richter, Heinz Gunther, Charles Bukowski and Hannz Heinz Ewers, German novelists have written works on a wide range of subjects. Remarkably, the list does not end here as 20th century German literature saw the likes of Robert Musli, Franz Kafka, Thomas Mann, Alfred Doblin, Gunter Grass and Uwe Johnson come up with some of the best known German novels. Lap up yourself with interesting information about the life and works of German novelists.

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.
4
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 Charles Bukowski

Charles Bukowski.
4
Famous As: Poet
Birthdate: August 16, 1920
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Andernach
Died: March 9, 1994

German-American poet and short story writer ,Charles Bukowski, addressed the ordinary lives of poor Americans in most of his works. Since his death, he has been the subject of many critical books and articles. His stories have inspired several films like Tales of Ordinary Madness, Crazy Love, and Factotum.

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 3 Hermann Hesse

Hermann Hesse.
4
Famous As: Poet & Novelist
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. 

 4 Erich Maria Remarque

Erich Maria Remarque.
4
Famous As: Novelist
Birthdate: June 22, 1898
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Osnabrück, Saxony, Germany
Died: September 25, 1970

German novelist Erich Maria Remarque is best remembered for his landmark novel All Quiet on the Western Front. Born in the late 1890s, he was conscripted into the German Imperial Army during World War I. His wartime experiences later motivated him to write what would become his seminal work. He also authored many other poignant novels.

 5 Günter Grass

Günter Grass.
3
Famous As: Novelist
Birthdate: October 16, 1927
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Free City of Danzig
Died: April 13, 2015

Günter Grass was a German novelist, illustrator, graphic artist, poet, playwright, and sculptor. A much revered and decorated writer, Grass was honored with the prestigious Nobel Prize in Literature in 1999. Over the course of his illustrious career, Günter Grass won many other awards, including the Georg Büchner Prize and the Hermann Kesten Prize.

 6 E. T. A. Hoffmann

E. T. A. Hoffmann.
3
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.

 7 Thomas Mann

Thomas Mann.
4
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.
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 8 Jacob Grimm

Jacob Grimm
3
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.

 9 Maria Riva

Maria Riva
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Famous As: Actress
Birthdate: December 13, 1924
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Berlin, Germany

Born to actor Marlene Dietrich, Maria Riva started her career as a child actor, working in films such as The Scarlet Empress. The Emmy-nominated actor had also been part of CBS teleplays such as The Milton Berle Show. She had penned a bestselling memoir on her mother, too.

 10 W. G. Sebald

W. G. Sebald
3
Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: May 18, 1944
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Wertach, Germany
Died: December 14, 2001

Born in Germany, W. G. Sebald later studied in Switzerland and England. He gained fame with his non-chronological tales of people traumatized by the ravages of war. His novels such as Vertigo and The Emigrants deal with themes of decay and memory. He died while driving around Norwich.

 11 Karl May

Karl May
3
Famous As: Writer, Novelist, Children's writer, Screenwriter
Birthdate: February 25, 1842
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Hohenstein-Ernstthal
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.

 12 Ernst Jünger

Ernst Jünger.
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Famous As: Soldier, Author, Entomologist
Birthdate: March 29, 1895
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Heidelberg, Germany
Died: February 17, 1998

Though Ernst Jünger was part of the German Army in both the World Wars, he was against the Nazi dictatorship and was accused of being involved in a plot to kill Hitler. He authored the diary-novel The Storm of Steel and also made a mark as an entomologist.

 13 George Nader

George Nader
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Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: October 19, 1921
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Pasadena, California, United States
Died: February 4, 2002

American actor/writer George Nader is best known for his iconic films such as Sins of Jezebel and Congo Crossing. With his 6’1” frame, the actor mostly earned "beefcake" roles. Though not openly gay, he lived with his partner Mark Miller. An eye injury later forced him to retire from acting.

 14 Heinrich Böll

Heinrich Böll
3
Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: December 21, 1917
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Cologne, Germany
Died: July 16, 1985

Nobel Prize-winning German author Heinrich Böll refused to join the Nazi youth wing and became a bookseller’s apprentice instead. However, he fought for the German Army later. He is best remembered for his works such as The Clown and The Silent Angel, revolving around themes of war.

 15 Jack Barsky

Jack Barsky
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Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: November 13, 1949
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Reichenbach, Upper Lusatia, Germany

 16 Cornelia Funke

Cornelia Funke.
3
Famous As: Author of children’s fiction
Birthdate: December 10, 1958
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Dorsten, Germany

Named to Time 100 in 2015, Cornelia Funke is a German children’s author who soared to fame with her best-selling novels The Thief Lord and Dragon Rider before achieving international fame with her Inkheart novel series. She has previously been a social worker, a board-game designer, and an illustrator.

 17 Herta Müller

Herta Müller.
3
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.

 18 B. Traven

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

 19 Theodor Storm

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

 20 Thea von Harbou

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

 21 Hans Fallada

Hans Fallada
3
Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: July 21, 1893
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Greifswald, Germany
Died: February 5, 1947

 22 Jean Paul

Jean Paul.
3
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

 23 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.

 24 Lion Feuchtwanger

Lion Feuchtwanger
3
Famous As: Novelist
Birthdate: July 7, 1884
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Munich, Germany
Died: December 21, 1958

 25 Lothar-Günther Buchheim

Lothar-Günther Buchheim
3
Famous As: Author
Birthdate: February 6, 1918
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Weimar, Germany
Died: February 22, 2007

 26 Heinrich Mann

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

 27 Theodor Fontane

Theodor Fontane
3
Famous As: Pharmacist, Writer, Poet, Historian, Translator, Novelist, Journalist
Birthdate: December 30, 1819
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Neuruppin
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.

 28 Gerhart Hauptmann

Gerhart Hauptmann
3
Famous As: Playwright, Poet, Writer, Novelist, Autobiographer, Screenwriter
Birthdate: November 15, 1862
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Szczawno-Zdrój
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.

 29 Alfred Doblin

Alfred Doblin.
2
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. 

 30 Bernhard Schlink

Bernhard Schlink
3
Famous As: Novelist
Birthdate: July 6, 1944
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Großdornberg, Germany

 31 John Weitz

John Weitz
3
Famous As: Fashion designer
Birthdate: May 25, 1923
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Berlin, Germany
Died: October 3, 2002

John Weitz was a menswear designer, writer, and historian. He was the son of a successful textile manufacturer. As a young man, he served in the army and joined his father’s textile business. He later started his own textile business and launched multiple clothing lines, focusing on stylish and affordable designs. He wrote fiction and non-fiction as a hobby. 

 32 Marie d'Agoult

Marie d'Agoult
2
Famous As: French author
Birthdate: December 31, 1805
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Frankfurt am Main, Germany
Died: March 5, 1876

 33 Christa Wolf

Christa Wolf
2
Famous As: Novelist
Birthdate: March 18, 1929
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Gorzów Wielkopolski, Poland
Died: December 1, 2011

Christa Wolf was a German novelist. She studied literature at the University of Leipzig and began working for the German Writers' Union. She eventually became an editor for a publication and started writing novels as well. The novels Der geteilte Himmel and Kassandra are among her most important works. She was a recipient of the Nelly Sachs Literature Prize. 

 34 Yehuda Amichai

Yehuda Amichai
2
Famous As: Poet, Writer, Novelist, Educationist, Educator
Birthdate: May 3, 1924
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Würzburg
Died: September 22, 2000

One of Israel’s most significant poets, Yehuda Amichai was born to Jewish parents in Germany and later moved to Jerusalem, where he fought for the British Army during World War II. His works, such as Now and in Other Days, carry themes of war, Jewish history, and the philosophy of life.

 35 Hanns Johst

Hanns Johst
2
Famous As: Poet
Birthdate: July 8, 1890
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Stauchitz, Germany
Died: November 23, 1978

German playwright Hanns Johst was an ardent supporter of the Nazi Party. His works were influenced by Expressionism. His play Schlageter was staged on Hitler’s 44th birthday to celebrate his victory after the Nazis rose to power. He also led the German poetry academy and writer’s union.

 36 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

 37 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

 38 Clemens Brentano

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

 39 Siegfried Lenz

Siegfried Lenz
2
Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: March 17, 1926
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Elk, Poland
Died: October 7, 2014

Siegfried Lenz was a German writer best remembered for his novels, essays, and short stories. He also served as a soldier in Nazi Germany's navy during World War II. He then went on to establish himself as a notable writer, winning prestigious awards like the International Nonino Prize and the Goethe Prize.

 40 Curt Siodmak

Curt Siodmak
2
Famous As: Novelist
Birthdate: August 10, 1902
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Dresden, Germany
Died: September 2, 2000

 41 Annette von Droste-Hülshoff

Annette von Droste-Hülshoff
2
Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: January 10, 1797
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Havixbeck, Germany
Died: May 24, 1848

 42 Friedrich Schlegel

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

 43 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

 44 Wilhelm Hauff

Wilhelm Hauff
2
Famous As: Poet
Birthdate: November 29, 1802
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Stuttgart
Died: November 18, 1827

 45 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

 46 Hans Jacob Christoph von Grimmelshausen

Hans Jacob Christoph von Grimmelshausen
2
Famous As: Author
Birthdate: 1621 AD
Birthplace: Gelnhausen, Germany
Died: August 17, 1676

 47 Bel Kaufman

Bel Kaufman
2
Famous As: Teacher
Birthdate: May 10, 1911
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Berlin, Germany
Died: July 25, 2014

 48 Juli Zeh

Juli Zeh
2
Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: June 30, 1974
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Bonn, Germany

 49 Arno Schmidt

Arno Schmidt
2
Famous As: Author
Birthdate: January 18, 1914
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Hamburg, Germany
Died: June 3, 1979

 50 Wolfgang Borchert

Wolfgang Borchert
2
Famous As: Author
Birthdate: May 20, 1921
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Hamburg, Germany
Died: November 20, 1947