Birthday: December 13, 1797
Died At Age: 58
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Also Known As: Christian Johann Heinrich Heine
Born Country: Germany
Born in: Düsseldorf, Germany
Famous as: Poet
Spouse/Ex-: Crescence Eugénie Mirat (m. 1841)
father: Samson Heine
mother: Peira van Geldern
siblings: Charlotte Heine, Gustav Heine von Geldern, Maximilian Meyer Heine
Died on: February 17, 1856
place of death: Paris
City: Düsseldorf, Germany
education: University of Bonn, Humboldt University of Berlin, University of Göttingen
Who was Heinrich Heine?
Heinrich Heine was a German poet, writer and literary critic. Popular across the world, especially for his lyric poetry, his works were often set to music by composers like Robert Schumann and Franz Schubert. His book ‘Buch der Lieder’ (The Book of Songs) is one of his best and internationally reputed works. Heine was born to Jewish parents in Dusseldorf, Germany. He completed his higher education in Gottingen, Bonn and Berlin. Though he studied law, he eventually turned his attention to literature and poetry. Later on, he was forced to convert to a Protestant because of the anti-Jewish sentiments and laws of the time. He became part of the Young German Movement. Over the years, he published many books that became popular among readers. Due to his radical political views, the German state banned many of his works. However, this only helped them gain further popularity. Some of his well-known works are ‘Buch der Lieder’ (The Book of Songs), ‘Die Romantische Schule’ (The Romantic School), and ‘Neue Gedichte’ (New Poems). Due to suppression by the government, he eventually fled to France. He passed away at the age of 58 in Paris.
Childhood & Early Life
Heinrich Heine was born on 13th December 1797, in Dusseldorf, Germany, which was at the time known as Duchy of Berg. His father was Samson Heine, a textile merchant. His mother’s name was Peira. He was the eldest of four children.
He was distantly related to Karl Marx, German economist and philosopher, with whom he later corresponded.
Heinrich Heine finished his early education at Dusseldorf Lyceum, after which his uncle tried to convince him to become a businessman. The uncle sent Heine to universities in Bonn, Berlin and Gottingen, where he studied law and earned his degree in 1825.
Due to the anti-Jewish laws of that time, he had to convert to Protestantism to be able to pursue a career in civil service. However, he never joined any government service nor ever practiced law.
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Though Heinrich Heine looked for a job, he was interested only in writing. At that time, it was very difficult to earn a living as a professional writer. This changed when he met Julius Campe, who eventually became his chief publisher for life. Campe was a liberal who used to publish works of mostly dissident authors.
Heine’s early works include ‘Die Harzreise’ (The Harz Journey) and ‘Ideen Das Buch Le Grand’ (1827).
Heine became involved in the German Romantic movement as well. It is also said that his poetry started the post-Romantic crisis. His work ‘Buch der Lieder’ (The Book of Songs), which was published in 1827, earned popularity worldwide.
Over the years, he continued to write several other popular works, such as ‘Die Harzreise’ (The Harz Journey), ‘Reisebilder’ (Pictures of Travel) and ‘Das Buch Le Grand’ (The Book de Grand).
Even after the July Revolution occurred in 1830 in France, Heinrich Heine continued staying in Germany, unlike many of his liberal and radical friends who decided to move to Paris. However, he was unable to find a permanent well-paying position, and in 1831, he eventually went to Paris, where he stayed for the rest of his life.
Heine earned much popularity in Paris within a short time. The place offered him cultural richness, which he had been unable to find in any city in Germany. He also became acquainted with prominent people like Gerard de Nerval and Hector Berlioz. Despite his popularity, he had almost no interest in French literature, and continued writing in German, which a collaborator helped him to translate to French.
He also found employment, working as a French correspondent in the newspaper ‘Allgemeine Zeitung’, for which he covered several important events.
Heinrich Heine wrote several articles about the culture and political situation of the country. They were collected in ‘Franösische Zustände’ (French Affairs). He published two books criticizing the social condition in Germany as well. They were ‘Die Romantische Schule’ (The Romantic School) and ‘Zur Geschicte der Relgion and Philosophie in Deutschland’ (On the History of Religion and Philosophy in Germany).
Heinrich Heine continued to write poems and in 1844, he published ‘Neue Gedichte’ (New Poems), a collection of poems featuring attacks of a satirical nature on German Romanticism. Shortly after, he wrote a long satirical poem named ‘Deutschland. Ein Wintermarchen’ (Germany. A Winter’s Tale). Germany eventually put a nationwide ban on Heine’s works. Though his exile was initially voluntary, it was turned into an imposed one.
Despite his success as a poet and writer, Heine always struggled financially. His uncle passed away in 1844, disinheriting him. After a lot of struggle for the inheritance, it was eventually settled by granting his uncle’s family a right of censorship over his writings. As his health started deteriorating, his situation became worse. His nervous system became damaged by a venereal disease, and he also became partly blind.
However, he continued to write his final collections of poems which were ‘Romanzero’ (1851) and ‘Gedichte 1853 und 1854’ (Poems 1853 and 1854). He passed away after suffering a lot on 17th February 1856. He was buried at a cemetery in Montmartre, Paris.
Family & Personal Life
Heinrich Heine is known to have had several love affairs. In 1834, he got acquainted with a young girl named Crescence Eugenie Mirat, with whom he started a relationship. Though she had no interest in cultural, social or intellectual ideas, she eventually moved in with him and got married. She remained with him till his death.