Paul Johann Ludwig von Heyse (HI-zuh), the first German to win the Nobel Prize in Literature, was born in Berlin on March 15, 1830. His father, Karl Wilhelm Heyse, was an eminent professor of philology at the University of Berlin. His mother, Julie (Saaling) Heyse, came from a prominent Jewish family.
Heyse attended Berlin’s Friedrich Wilhelm Gymnasium and then studied classical languages and romance languages at the Universities of Berlin and Bonn. After he received a doctorate from the University of Berlin in 1852, he left on a scholarship for a year’s study in Italy, where he immersed himself in Italian art and literature.
On his return to Germany, Heyse settled in Munich, which became his home. There, the friendly influence of the poet Emmanuel Geibel brought him to the attention of Maximilian II, the king of Bavaria, who awarded Heyse a titular professorship at the University of Munich in 1854. This gave him freedom to devote himself entirely to writing, which he did. Although he had published his first novella, Der Jungbrunnen, in 1850, when he was twenty years old, beginning in 1854 his output—fiction, drama, poetry, prose, translations—became a flood. He was also an active critic. Together with Geibel, he founded Krokodil, a literary society devoted to combating naturalism and its effects.
In 1854 Heyse married Margarete Kugler, the daughter of an art historian, and lived happily with her until her death in 1862. Two years later he married Anna Schubart, with whom he spent the rest of a...
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