Paul Heyse Biography


(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

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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(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Brandes, Georg M. C. “Paul Heyse.” In Creative Spirits of the Nineteenth Century. New York: Thomas Y. Crowell, 1923. An enthusiastic account of Heyse’s literary career up to 1875.

Martin, Werner. Paul Heyse: Eine Bibliographie seiner Werke. New York: G. Olms, 1978. Lists all of Heyse’s writings and provides bibliographical information about them.

Silz, Walter. Realism and Reality: Studies in the German Novelle of Poetic Realism. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1954. Solid discussion of Heyse’s role in the development of the German Novelle of poetic realism.

Weing, Siegfried. The German Novella: Two Centuries of Criticism. Columbia, S.C.: Camden House, 1994. A useful account of the theory of the novella from early German novelistic narratives to 1980. Heyse is treated in the section on poetic realism. Includes bibliographical references.