Hermann Hesse Biography

Hermann Hesse was a German novelist and poet, often hailed as one of the greatest German writers. Read about his profile, childhood, life and timeline in the biography below.

Quick Facts

Birthday: July 2, 1877

Nationality: German, Swiss

Famous: Quotes By Hermann Hesse Nobel Laureates In Literature

Died At Age: 85

Sun Sign: Cancer

Born Country: Germany

Born in: Calw

Famous as: Poet

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Spouse/Ex-: Maria Bernoulli, Ninon Auslander, Ruth Wenger

father: Johannes Hesse

mother: Marie Gundert

siblings: Theo

children: Bruno Hesse, Heiner Hesse, Martin Hesse

Died on: August 9, 1962

place of death: Montagnola

discoveries/inventions: Theosophy

More Facts

awards: 1906 – Bauernfeld-Preis
1928 – Mejstrik-Preis of the Schiller Foundation in Vienna
1936 – Gottfried-Keller-Preis

1946 – Goethe Prize
1946 – Nobel Prize in Literature
1947 – Honorary Doctorate from the University of Bern
1950 – Wilhelm-Raabe-Preis
1954 – Pour le Mérite
1955 – Peace Prize of the German Book Trade

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Celebrated as one of the finest and most influential writers, Hermann Hesse belonged to the set of writers who were largely disillusioned by proceedings around them during the twentieth century. Most of his writings cited a longing for the bygone era of Romanticism and expressed his spiritual turmoil, deeply rooted in the pathos of the modern age as it was slowly losing its association with the inner self. But despite this, he provided his concept of an ideal world which can be seen as the remnant of the Romantic school of thought. Like Blake and Wordsworth, he concentrated on the three stages of development of human life, which begins with childhood innocence, moving on experience and later comes back to innocence. But this chronology may not be germane in the modern age, especially, the world left devastated and distraught after the two World Wars. He believed people born during or after the great wars are not likely to gain the ‘pre-WWI innocence’ and therefore are “confronted with the necessity to make free choices and judgments” in their second stage of life. Almost all of his novels dealt with this theme. As the world was still recovering from the wreckage of the Wars, his characters searched for the meaning of life which entailed the rejection of the conventional paths to peace.

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Childhood & Early Life
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  • In 1896, Hesse’s poem ‘Madonna’ was published in the Viennese periodical. In the autumn of the same year, his first small volume of poetry, ‘Romantic Songs’ was published.
  • In 1904, his breakthrough novel ‘Peter Camenzind’ was published which received rave reviews.
  • His second novel ‘Beneath the Wheel’ was published in 1906. ‘Gertrude’, another novel by him was published in 1910.
  • In 1912, he settled in Switzerland. But soon the First World War broke out and he became disillusioned with German nationalism
  • In 1917, he penned his novel ‘Demian’, which was published in 1919.
  • In 1920 he came up with the novella ‘Klingsor's Last Summer’ and in 1922 ‘Siddhartha’, one of his most venerated novellas was published.
  • In 1923, he gave up German and acquired Swiss citizenship. This was followed by a number of major works, such as, ‘Kurgast’ in 1925 and ‘The Nuremberg Trip’ in 1927.
  • In 1927, ‘Steppenwolf’, his widely acclaimed novel was published, and was followed by another ‘Narcissus and Goldmund’ in 1930.
  • He started to write what was going to be his last major work ‘The Glass Bead Game’ in 1931. His next novella ‘Journey to the East’ was released in 1932.
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  • In 1943 ‘The Glass Bead Game’ was printed and he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1946.
Major Works
  • His novel ‘Steppenwolf’ became an international success, which reflected the abysmal crisis in Hesse's spiritual world in the 1920s.
  • The novel ‘Siddhartha’ was about the spiritual journey of a man named Siddhartha. The book took Hesse’s fame to great heights and became an international hit. It was translated into many languages.
  • His last novel ‘The Glass Bead Game’, for which he won the Nobel Prize for Literature, is a fascinating tale of the complexity of modern life.
Awards & Achievements
  • In 1946, he received Nobel Prize in Literature after he published his last major novel ‘The Glass Bead Game’.
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Personal Life & Legacy
  • He got married to Maria Bernoulli in 1904 and the couple had three sons.
  • In 1924, he married singer Ruth Wenger, but their married life was quite unstable and they soon got separated.
  • He married historian Ninon Dolbin, n�e Ausl�nder in 1927.
  • He breathed his last breath on 9 August 1962 and was incinerated at San Abbondio in Montagnola.
  • As a child this great writer had serious issues with any sort of authority, be it his parents or teachers, for which he had to be placed in special schools and later at a mental institution.
  • He was discharged from military service due to an eye condition and all his life he was afflicted with nervous disorders.
  • Though he grew up to became of one the greatest writers of his age, but as a teenager he wanted to become an artist drawing inspiration from his half-brother, who was also his first role model.

See the events in life of Hermann Hesse in Chronological Order

How To Cite

Article Title
- Hermann Hesse Biography
- Editors, TheFamousPeople.com
- TheFamousPeople.com
Last Updated
- October 16, 2017
Hermann Hesse

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