Famous German Novelists

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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.
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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
5
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
(Poet, Novelist & Painter Who Won the 1946 Nobel Prize in Literature)
Hermann Hesse
4
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 
Rainer Maria Rilke
(Austrian Poet and Novelist Known for His Poetry Collections ‘Duino Elegies’ and ‘Sonnets to Orpheus’)
Rainer Maria Rilke
4
Birthdate: December 4, 1875
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Prague, Czech Republic
Died: December 29, 1926

Bohemian-Austrian poet and author Rainer Maria Rilke is best remembered for his numerous poetry collections and his only novel, The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge. His works contain metaphors, contradictions, and elements drawn from Greek mythology. Though most of his works were in German, he had also written in French.

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 4 
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.
 5 
Erich Maria Remarque
(German Writer Best Known for His Novel ‘All Quiet on the Western Front’)
Erich Maria Remarque
4
Birthdate: June 22, 1898
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Osnabrück, 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.

 6 
Günter Grass
(German Novelist & Nobel Prize Laureate, Best Known for His 1959 Novel, 'The Tin Drum')
Günter Grass
3
Birthdate: October 16, 1927
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Free City of Danzig, Poland
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.

 7 
E. T. A. Hoffmann
5
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.

 8 
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.

 9 
George Nader
4
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.

 10 
W. G. Sebald
(One of the Greatest German Authors Known for His Works: 'Vertigo', 'The Emigrants' & 'Austerlitz')
W. G. Sebald
3
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 
Heinrich Böll
(One of Germany’s Foremost Post-World War II Writers)
Heinrich Böll
3
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.

 12 
Cornelia Funke
(German Author of Children's Fiction Best Known for Her Novels: ‘The Thief Lord’ and ‘Dragon Rider’)
Cornelia Funke
3
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.

 13 
Erich Kästner
(Known Primarily for His Humorous, Socially Astute Poems and the Children’s Book 'Emil and the Detectives')
Erich Kästner
3
Birthdate: February 23, 1899
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Dresden, Germany
Died: July 29, 1974

Four-time Nobel Prize-nominated German author Erich Kästne is best remembered for his children’s books such as Emil and the Detectives. Initially aspiring to be a teacher, he later had stints as a journalist and a freelance author. A leading satirist, he contributed to Die Weltbühne and also headed PEN.

 14 
Patrick Süskind
(Writer, best know for his novel Perfume: The Story of a Murderer, first published in 1985)
Patrick Süskind
3
Birthdate: March 26, 1949
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Münsing, Germany
 15 
Jack Barsky
(Writer)
Jack Barsky
3
Birthdate: November 13, 1949
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Reichenbach, Upper Lusatia, Germany
 16 
Erika Mann
(Actress)
Erika Mann
3
Birthdate: November 9, 1905
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Munich, German Empire
Died: August 27, 1969
 17 
B. Traven
(Novelist)
B. Traven
4
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.

 18 
Theodor Storm
2
Birthdate: September 14, 1817
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Husum, Germany
Died: July 4, 1888
 19 
Thea von Harbou
(Screenwriter)
Thea von Harbou
3
Birthdate: December 27, 1888
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Tauperlitz, Döhlau, Germany
Died: July 1, 1954
 20 
Hans Fallada
(Writer)
Hans Fallada
3
Birthdate: July 21, 1893
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Greifswald, Germany
Died: February 5, 1947
 21 
Jean Paul
(German Romantic Writer Best Known for His Humorous Novels and Stories)
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

 22 
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.

 23 
Lion Feuchtwanger
3
Birthdate: July 7, 1884
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Munich, Germany
Died: December 21, 1958
 24 
Heinrich Mann
(Novelist)
Heinrich Mann
3
Birthdate: March 27, 1871
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Lübeck, Germany
Died: March 11, 1950
Lothar-Günther Buchheim
3
Birthdate: February 6, 1918
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Weimar, Germany
Died: February 22, 2007
 26 
Elizabeth von Arnim
2
Birthdate: August 31, 1866
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Kirribilli Point, Australia
Died: February 9, 1941
 27 
Marie d'Agoult
(French author)
Marie d'Agoult
2
Birthdate: December 31, 1805
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Frankfurt am Main, Germany
Died: March 5, 1876
 28 
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.

 29 
Bernhard Schlink
3
Birthdate: July 6, 1944
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Großdornberg, Germany
 30 
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.

 31 
Alfred Doblin
(German Writer and Doctor Best Known for His Novels: ‘Berlin Alexanderplatz’ and ‘The Three Leaps of Wang Lun’)
Alfred Doblin
2
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. 

 32 
Herta Müller
(German-Romanian Author, Who Received the 2009 Nobel Prize in Literature for Her Novel 'The Hunger Angel')
Herta Müller
1
Birthdate: August 17, 1953
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Nitchidorf, Romania

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.

 33 
Christa Wolf
(German Novelist and Essayist Best Known for Her 1963 Work 'Divided Heaven')
Christa Wolf
2
Birthdate: March 18, 1929
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Landsberg an der Warthe, Germany
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 
Daniel Kehlmann
(Novelist)
Daniel Kehlmann
2
Birthdate: January 13, 1975
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Munich, Germany

Best known for his bestselling novel Tyll, which was shortlisted for the Booker Prize and is also being made into a Netflix series, German author Daniel Kehlmann is the son of TV director Michael Kehlmann and actor Dagmar Mettler. His other notable works include Measuring the World and Fame.

 35 
Hanns Johst
2
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
(Known for His Novel ‘Aus Dem Leben Eines Taugenichts’)
Joseph Freiherr von Eichendorff
2
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 
Peter Weiss
(German-Born Swedish Author, Painter, and Filmmaker)
Peter Weiss
2
Birthdate: November 8, 1916
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Nowawes, Brandenburg, Germany
Died: May 10, 1982
 38 
Charlotte Roche
(She Is Best Known for Her 2009 Novel 'Wetlands')
Charlotte Roche
2
Birthdate: March 18, 1978
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: High Wycombe, England
 39 
Curt Siodmak
(Novelist)
Curt Siodmak
2
Birthdate: August 10, 1902
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Dresden, Germany
Died: September 2, 2000
 40 
Juli Zeh
(Writer)
Juli Zeh
2
Birthdate: June 30, 1974
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Bonn, Germany
 41 
Frieda Lawrence
2
Birthdate: August 11, 1879
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Grand Est, France
Died: August 11, 1956
 42 
Clemens Brentano
2
Birthdate: September 9, 1778
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Ehrenbreitstein Fortress, Koblenz, Germany
Died: July 28, 1842
 43 
Wolfgang Borchert
2
Birthdate: May 20, 1921
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Hamburg, Germany
Died: November 20, 1947
 44 
Siegfried Lenz
(German Writer Best Known For His Novel ‘The German Lesson')
Siegfried Lenz
2
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.

 45 
Friedrich Schlegel
2
Birthdate: March 10, 1772
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Hannover, Germany
Died: January 12, 1829
 46 
Gustav Freytag
(German Novelist and Playwright)
Gustav Freytag
2
Birthdate: July 13, 1816
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Kluczbork, Poland
Died: April 30, 1895

Gustav Freytag was a German playwright and novelist best remembered for his 1852 comedy The Journalists which is regarded as one of the 19th century's best German comedies. It is still counted among the most successful German comedies of all time. A respected playwright, Freytag is credited with developing a dramatic structure called Freytag's pyramid which is widely used today.

Annette von Droste-Hülshoff
2
Birthdate: January 10, 1797
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Havixbeck, Germany
Died: May 24, 1848
 48 
Bettina von Arnim
(Former Writer most famously wrote the 1835 work, Goethes Briefwechsel mit einem Kinde (Goethe's correspondence with a child))
Bettina von Arnim
2
Birthdate: April 4, 1785
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Frankfurt, Germany
Died: January 20, 1859
 49 
Wilhelm Hauff
(Poet, Novelist)
Wilhelm Hauff
2
Birthdate: November 29, 1802
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Stuttgart, Germany
Died: November 18, 1827
Hans Jacob Christoph von Grimmelshausen
2
Birthdate: 1621 AD
Birthplace: Gelnhausen, Germany
Died: August 17, 1676