Famous German Playwrights

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 1 Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
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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 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.

 3 Friedrich Schiller

Friedrich Schiller
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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.

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 4 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.

 5 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.

 6 Georg Büchner

Georg Büchner
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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.

 7 Rainer Werner Fassbinder

Rainer Werner Fassbinder
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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. 

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 8 Nelly Sachs

Nelly Sachs
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Famous As: Former Poet, Playwright particularly known for Eli: Ein Mysterienspiel vom Leiden Israels, a 1950 play based on her World War II experiences
Birthdate: December 10, 1891
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Schöneberg, Berlin, Germany
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 Ernst Toller

Ernst Toller
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Famous As: Playwright, left-wing politician and revolutionary, known for his Expressionist plays
Birthdate: December 1, 1893
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Szamocin, Poland
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.

 10 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.

 11 Lion Feuchtwanger

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

 12 Else Lasker-Schüler

Else Lasker-Schüler
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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.

 13 Gerhart Hauptmann

Gerhart Hauptmann
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Famous As: Novelist, Dramatist
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.

 14 Frank Wedekind

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

 15 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

 16 Daniel Kehlmann

Daniel Kehlmann
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Famous As: Novelist
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.

 17 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.

 18 Hermann Broch

Hermann Broch
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Famous As: Former writer, best known for two major works of modernist fiction: The Sleepwalkers (Die Schlafwandler, 1930–32) and The Death of Virgil (Der Tod des Vergil, 1945)
Birthdate: November 1, 1886
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Vienna, Austria
Died: May 30, 1951

Born into an affluent family, Hermann Broch sold his family’s textile factory to focus on studying physics, math, and philosophy. Mostly known for his literary works such as The Sleepwalkers, he had ventured into writing only after 40. He was imprisoned by the Nazis and later fled to the U.S.

 19 Peter Weiss

Peter Weiss
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Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: November 8, 1916
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Nowawes, Brandenburg, Germany
Died: May 10, 1982

 20 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.

 21 Joseph Freiherr von Eichendorff

Joseph Freiherr von Eichendorff
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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 August Wilhelm Schlegel

August Wilhelm Schlegel
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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

 23 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. 

 24 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

 25 Heiner Müller

Heiner Müller
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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.

 26 August von Kotzebue

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

 27 Karl August Wittfogel

Karl August Wittfogel
2
Famous As: Playwright
Birthdate: September 6, 1896
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Woltersdorf, Lüchow, Province of Hanover, Free State of Prussia, German Empire
Died: May 25, 1988

 28 Karl Valentin

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

 29 Alois Senefelder

Alois Senefelder
2
Famous As: Actor and playwright who invented the printing technique of lithography in the 1790s
Birthdate: November 6, 1771
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Prague, Czechia
Died: February 26, 1834

 30 Martin Walser

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

 31 Hans Sachs

Hans Sachs
2
Famous As: Poet, playwright
Birthdate: November 5, 1494
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Nuremberg, Germany
Died: January 19, 1576

 32 Christian Friedrich Hebbel

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

 33 Carl Zuckmayer

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

 34 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

 35 Sibylle Berg

Sibylle Berg
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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.  

 36 Georg Kaiser

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

 37 Andreas Gryphius

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

Widely regarded as one of the most prominent poets of the German baroque, Andreas Gryphius was one of the first significant contributors to the development of German poetry and language. Such was his enormous success that no German dramatic writer had gained such popularity before him, nor did he have worthy successors until about mid-18th century.

 38 Hermann Sudermann

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

 39 Leo Birinski

Leo Birinski
1
Famous As: Playwright who gained his biggest popularity from 1910 – 1917
Birthdate: June 8, 1884
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Lysyanka, Ukraine
Died: October 23, 1951

 40 Herbert Achternbusch

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

 41 Christian August Vulpius

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

 42 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

 43 Karl Gutzkow

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

 44 Walter Hasenclever

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

 45 James Krüss

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

 46 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. 

 47 Gerhard Polt

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

 48 Johann Adam Hiller

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

 49 Folker Bohnet

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

 50 Friedrich Theodor Vischer

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