Theodor Storm Biography


(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Hans Theodor Woldsen Storm (shtawrm) was one of Germany’s greatest writers of the Age of Realism. In addition to his well-constructed novellas, he also produced highly regarded lyric poetry. Storm was born in Husum, a small coastal town in the province of Schleswig, and much of his writing is closely associated with the area. After completing law school, he settled in his hometown, expecting to live there for the rest of his life. The Danish occupation of Schleswig-Holstein (1853-1864) and his outspokenness against Danish oppression forced him into unhappy exile to Potsdam in 1853 and, in 1856, to Heiligenstadt, where he worked as the district judge. After the Prussians defeated the Danes, the author was again able to return to his beloved Husum in 1864.

Storm was married twice. He married his first cousin, Constanze Esmarch, in 1846; she died in 1865. Constanze was a major inspiration for Storm’s writing, and her sensitive critique of his work helped the author to achieve stylistic perfection. Even during his marriage to Constanze, however, the author was attracted to Dorothea Jensen, who loved him passionately even though he was already married. After Constanze’s death, Storm was free to marry Dorothea. The turbulent and sometimes tragic relationship with Dorothea and their search for happiness are the background to Storm’s 1874 novella Viola tricolor.

After Storm’s return to Husum, he was elected to various high judicial and administrative positions that he held until 1880, when he retired to nearby Hademarschen. The author remained preoccupied with his writing, which was closely connected to his personal experiences, the local environment, and local history. His lyric poetry was influenced primarily by folklore and by the poet Joseph von...

(The entire section is 730 words.)


(Survey of Novels and Novellas)

In 1817, the duchies of Schleswig and Holstein belonged to Denmark. For that reason, Hans Theodor Woldsen (T. W.) Storm was born a Danish citizen. Close family ties and the seafaring merchant traditions of his maternal forebears were the substance of his early life and perceptions of the world. Because the school that he attended in Husum was inferior, his parents sent him to Lübeck in 1835 to complete his secondary education. There he met Ferdinand Röse, who introduced him to the works of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and various contemporary German poets. While completing his schooling, he became acquainted with Bertha von Buchan, whom he later asked to marry him. Their relationship, which ended with her rejection of his proposal in 1842, provided the model for his treatment of the problem of unfulfilled love in Immensee and other thematically related novellas.

When he left Lübeck, Storm entered law school at the University of Kiel. Somewhat disenchanted with the provincial atmosphere of the institution, he followed Röse to Berlin, where he remained for three semesters. Upon returning to Kiel in 1839, he became a part of the intellectual circle around the Mommsens. A close productive friendship ensued. Influenced by the Mommsens, Storm began collecting materials for compilations of folk literature, developing a special fondness for fairy tales. He also wrote his first important poems in those years, many of which appeared in Liederbuch dreier Freunde in 1843.

Storm graduated from...

(The entire section is 623 words.)