Stefan Anton George was born in Büdesheim near Bingen in the Rhine district of Germany. His ancestors were farmers, millers, and merchants. When George was five years old, his father, a wine dealer, moved the family to Bingen. Bingen had a lasting impact on the poet’s imagination, and its landscapes informed much of his early poetry. In 1882, George began his secondary education in Darmstadt. He received broad humanistic training and excelled in French. While in school, he taught himself Norwegian and Italian and began translating works by Henrik Ibsen, Petrarch, and Torquato Tasso. When he was eighteen, he began writing poetry and published some of his earliest lyrics under the pseudonym “Edmund Delorme” in the journal Rosen und Disteln that he had founded in 1887.
Upon leaving school in 1888, George began the travels that later characterized his lifestyle. He went first to London, where he became acquainted with the writings of Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Algernon Charles Swinburne, and Ernest Dowson, whose poems he later translated and published in German. In Paris, in 1889, he met the French poet Albert Saint-Paul, who introduced him into the circle of Symbolist poets surrounding Stéphane Mallarmé. In this group of congenial literary artists, which included Verlaine, Francis Vielé-Griffen, the Belgian Albert Mockel, and the Polish poet Waclaw Rolicz-Lieder, George found needed personal acceptance and friendship as well as important...
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