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.
Swiss-born German philosopher and metaphysician Frithjof Schuon was a major figure of the Traditionalist School of thought. He also propagated Religio Perennis and wrote extensively about his belief in God, the absolute principle. Most of his work was penned in French and very few in his mother tongue, German.
French-speaking Swiss poet Blaise Cendrars was a regular at the artists’ colony known as The Beehive. Remembered for his novels such as Bourlinguer and his poems such as Pâques à New York, he mostly included autobiographical elements in his works, such as his experiences at the front lines for the French army.
Best known for his research on physiognomy, Johann Kaspar Lavater was also a theologian and an author. He had penned books such as Aussichten in die Ewigkeit and several epic and lyric poems. He died of a grenade wound during the French occupation of Switzerland.
Best known for his popular Journal Intime, Henri Frédéric Amiel was orphaned at an early age and traveled with various European intellectuals to gain knowledge. Apart from teaching aesthetics and moral philosophy, he also wrote volumes of philosophy and poetry, apart from criticism of major philosophers.
Swiss author and poet Gottfried Keller remains one of the most significant contributors to German literature. After devoting his initial years to landscape painting, he focused on poetry and eventually became a pioneer of poetic realism. He also penned novels such as Green Henry and several short story collections.
Isabelle de Charrière was born to a Dutch noble family but later married her brother’s Swiss teacher and settled in Switzerland. A fine novelist, known for works such as Trois Femmes and Caliste; ou, lettres écrites de Lausanne, she critiqued social conventions and aristocratic privilege.
Born to a goldsmith and watchmaker, Meinrad Inglin struggled to balance his studies and work after being orphaned at 17. He later served the army and also worked as a journalist, before devoting himself to writing full-time. His works, such as Grand Hotel Excelsior, depict the realism of rural life.
Swiss author Charles-Ferdinand Ramuz is remembered for his simple language and allegorical elements. Known for his iconic works such as Terror on the Mountain and Beauty on Earth, he narrated stories of rural people. He also taught in Germany and Switzerland and spent a considerable part of his life in Paris.
One of the greatest avant-garde Swiss-born French authors, Robert Pinget was also part of the Nouveau Roman movement. The Inquisitory remains one of his best-known works. He also penned plays such as L'Hypothèse and Un Testament Bizarre, which made his readers compare him to legendary literary figures such as Beckett.
Born to a publisher and bookseller, Salomon Gessner initially focused on landscape painting and etching and later devoted himself to poetry and pastoral prose. He co-founded the Helvetic Society and also served as a town councillor. Idyllen and Der Tod Abels remain his most significant written works.
One of the most significant Swiss-born French authors, Jacques Chessex scripted history as the first Swiss author to win the French prize Prix Goncourt, for his novel L'Ogre. He had a heart attack and collapsed while discussing a play at a public event and died shortly after.
One of the major figures of Rudolf Steiner’s anthroposophical movement, Albert Steffen was not just a renowned dramatist, poet, and novelist, but also a talented painter. He also headed the Anthroposophical Society and edited its review, Das Goetheanum. His plays such as Hieram und Salomo and Barrabas, remain his best-known works.
Initially a priest, Heinrich Federer decided to switch to journalism when his church career came to halt due to his asthma attacks. He later took to writing on religious themes. Saint Francis of Assisi and Mountains and Men remain two of his most notable works.
Born to a mechanic in Zurich, Albin Zollinger grew up in Switzerland and Argentina. Known for his novels such as The Thunderstorm and his poem collections such as Autumn Tranquility, he later became popular for his signature descriptions of landscapes. Apart from writing, he also worked for a Swiss engineering firm.