Famous German Playwrights

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
6
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 Anton Chekhov

Anton Chekhov
5
Famous As: Playwright, Short-story writer
Birthdate: January 29, 1860
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Taganrog, Russia
Died: July 15, 1904

Anton Chekhov was a Russian short-story writer and playwright. Widely regarded as one of the greatest writers of short fiction, Chekhov's works have influenced the progression of the modern short story. As a playwright, Anton Chekhov is credited with influencing the rise of modernism in theatre, along with August Strindberg and Henrik Ibsen.

 3 Bertolt Brecht

Bertolt Brecht
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Famous As: Theatre practitioner
Birthdate: February 10, 1898
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Augsburg, Germany
Died: August 14, 1956

German playwright, poet, and theater director, Bertolt Brecht, is best known for co-writing the play, The Threepenny Opera, with Kurt Weill. Growing up in war-torn Germany in the early 20th century, he had a difficult life. A hardcore Marxist, he lived in exile during the Nazi period. He returned to Germany after the war and established a theater company.

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 4 Friedrich Schiller

Friedrich Schiller
4
Famous As: Poet, Playwright
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.

 5 Günter Grass

Günter Grass
4
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 Dietrich Eckart

Dietrich Eckart
3
Famous As: Poet
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.

 7 Georg Büchner

Georg Büchner
3
Famous As: Dramatist
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.

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 8 Nelly Sachs

Nelly Sachs
3
Famous As: Poet, Playwright, Writer
Birthdate: December 10, 1891
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Schöneberg
Died: May 12, 1970

Nelly Leonie Sachs, internationally noted German-Swedish poet and dramatist, wrote conventional romantic poems until the rise of Nazism brought about a drastic change in her life. Forced to flee to Sweden, she began writing about the grief and yearnings of her fellow Jews, concurrently translating German works into Swedish and vice-versa. She won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1966.

 9 Rainer Werner Fassbinder

Rainer Werner Fassbinder
4
Famous As: Film maker
Birthdate: May 31, 1945
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Bad Wörishofen, Germany
Died: June 10, 1982

Rainer Werner Fassbinder was a German actor, filmmaker, and playwright. He grew up in the aftermath of World War II and had a tough childhood. He sought solace by watching films and took acting lessons. He began his career in theater and eventually entered films as well. He is considered a prominent figure of the New German Cinema movement. 

 10 Gotthold Ephraim Lessing

Gotthold Ephraim Lessing
3
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.

 11 Ernst Toller

Ernst Toller
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Famous As: Playwright, Politician, Writer, Screenwriter, Poet lawyer, Poet
Birthdate: December 1, 1893
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Szamocin
Died: May 22, 1939

German playwright and author Ernst Toller is best remembered for his Expressionist plays and his Marxism. Though he served the German Army initially, he suffered a physical breakdown soon and quit, propagating peace instead. His best-known play, Man and the Masses, was written in prison.

 12 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.

 13 Else Lasker-Schüler

Else Lasker-Schüler
3
Famous As: Poet
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.

 14 Lion Feuchtwanger

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

 15 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.

 16 Frank Wedekind

Frank Wedekind
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Famous As: Playwright, Writer, Journalist, Screenwriter, Actor, Poet lawyer
Birthdate: July 24, 1864
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Hanover
Died: March 9, 1918

 17 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

 18 Hanns Johst

Hanns Johst
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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.

 19 Hrosvitha

Hrosvitha
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Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: 0935 AD
Birthplace: Saxony, Germany
Died: 1002 AD

Considered the first German female poet and historian Hrosvitha was a Benedictine nun for most of her life. Her writings provided a woman’s perspective of the history of her era. Her works include narrative poems on Christian legends and comedies with Christian themes written in Latin.

 20 Peter Weiss

Peter Weiss
2
Famous As: Playwright, Writer, Painter, Director, Film director
Birthdate: November 8, 1916
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Nowawes
Died: May 10, 1982

 21 Joseph Freiherr von Eichendorff

Joseph Freiherr von Eichendorff
3
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

 22 Heiner Müller

Heiner Müller
2
Famous As: Dramatist
Birthdate: January 9, 1929
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Eppendorf, Germany
Died: December 30, 1995

Heiner Müller was a German dramatist, writer, poet, theatre director, and essayist. An influential dramatist, Müller made major contributions to post-dramatic theatre and postmodern drama. Decades after his death, Müller's works continue to influence many European playwrights and dramatists. Heiner Müller won prestigious awards like the Kleist Prize and the Heinrich Mann Prize.

 23 August Wilhelm Schlegel

August Wilhelm Schlegel
2
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

 24 Erich Mühsam

Erich Mühsam
2
Famous As: Essayist
Birthdate: April 6, 1878
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Berlin, Germany
Died: July 10, 1934

Erich Mühsam was a German anti-militarist anarchist essayist, poet, and playwright. He was born into an Orthodox Jewish family. He was rebellious by nature and aspired to be a writer from a young age. He eventually became involved in communist and anarchist politics. His well-known works include Die Eigenen and Im Nachthemd durchs Leben. He was murdered in 1934. 

 25 Wolfgang Borchert

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

 26 August von Kotzebue

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

 27 Karl Valentin

Karl Valentin
2
Famous As: Comedian
Birthdate: June 4, 1882
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Munich, Germany
Died: February 9, 1948

 28 Martin Walser

Martin Walser
2
Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: March 24, 1927
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Wasserburg am Bodensee, Germany

 29 Christian Friedrich Hebbel

Christian Friedrich Hebbel
2
Famous As: Poet
Birthdate: March 18, 1813
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Wesselburen, Germany
Died: December 13, 1863

 30 Carl Zuckmayer

Carl Zuckmayer
2
Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: December 27, 1896
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Nackenheim, Germany
Died: January 18, 1977

 31 Sibylle Berg

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

Sibylle Berg is a German-born Swiss author and playwright considered one of the most famous and influential writers and playwrights in the German-speaking world. She writes novels, essays, fiction, and plays, and her books have been translated into 30 languages. She is non-binary and a popular figure in the LGBTQAI+ community. She is the recipient of numerous prestigious awards.  

 32 Georg Kaiser

Georg Kaiser
2
Famous As: Dramatist
Birthdate: November 25, 1878
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Magdeburg, Germany
Died: June 4, 1945

 33 Hellmuth Karasek

Hellmuth Karasek
2
Famous As: Journalist, Writer, Theatre critic, Literary critic, Playwright, University teacher
Birthdate: January 4, 1934
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Brno
Died: September 29, 2015

 34 Andreas Gryphius

Andreas Gryphius
2
Famous As: Poet
Birthdate: October 11, 1616
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Glogow, Poland
Died: July 16, 1664

 35 Hermann Sudermann

Hermann Sudermann
1
Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: September 30, 1857
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Matzicken, Ostenfeld, Germany
Died: November 21, 1928

 36 Christian August Vulpius

Christian August Vulpius
1
Famous As: Novelist
Birthdate: January 23, 1762
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Weimar, Germany
Died: June 25, 1827

 37 Karl Gutzkow

Karl Gutzkow
1
Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: March 17, 1811
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Berlin, Germany
Died: December 16, 1878

 38 Walter Hasenclever

Walter Hasenclever
1
Famous As: Poet
Birthdate: July 8, 1890
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Aachen, Germany
Died: June 22, 1940

 39 August, Graf von Platen

August, Graf von Platen
1
Famous As: Poet
Birthdate: October 24, 1796
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Ansbach, Germany
Died: December 5, 1835

 40 Folker Bohnet

Folker Bohnet
1
Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: August 7, 1937
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Berlin, Germany
Died: October 6, 2020

 41 James Krüss

James Krüss
1
Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: May 31, 1926
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Heligoland, Germany
Died: August 2, 1997

 42 Herbert Achternbusch

Herbert Achternbusch
1
Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: November 23, 1938
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Munich, Germany

 43 Gerhard Polt

Gerhard Polt
1
Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: May 7, 1942
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Munich, Germany

 44 Martin Mosebach

Martin Mosebach
1
Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: July 31, 1951
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Frankfurt, Germany

Martin Mosebach is a German writer best known as the author of the non-fiction book The 21 - A Journey into the Land of Coptic Martyrs. Besides non-fiction, he also writes novels, stories, theater and radio plays, and film scripts. He is the recipient of multiple prestigious awards, including the Georg Büchner Prize and the Kleist Prize. 

 45 Johann Adam Hiller

Johann Adam Hiller
1
Famous As: Composer
Birthdate: December 25, 1728
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Germany
Died: June 16, 1804

 46 Christian Dietrich Grabbe

Christian Dietrich Grabbe
1
Famous As: Dramatist
Birthdate: December 11, 1801
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Detmold, Germany
Died: September 12, 1836

 47 Tankred Dorst

Tankred Dorst
1
Famous As: Playwright
Birthdate: December 19, 1925
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Sonneberg, Germany
Died: June 1, 2017

 48 Friedrich Theodor Vischer

Friedrich Theodor Vischer
1
Famous As: Novelist
Birthdate: June 30, 1807
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Ludwigsburg, Germany
Died: September 14, 1887

 49 Emanuel Geibel

Emanuel Geibel
1
Famous As: Poet
Birthdate: October 17, 1815
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Lübeck, Germany
Died: April 6, 1884

 50 Carl Sternheim

Carl Sternheim
1
Famous As: Playwright
Birthdate: April 1, 1878
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Leipzig, Germany
Died: November 3, 1942