Ludwig Tieck

Portrait of Ludwig Tieck

Ludwig Tieck was a German poet, fiction writer, translator, and critic. He was one of the founding fathers of the Romantic movement in the late 18th and early 19th centuries in Germany. He was born in Berlin, Germany on 31st May 1773 and died there on 28th April 1853 aged 79.

Major Works

Die Geschichte des Herrn William Lovell” (1795)
Volksmärchen von Peter Lebrecht” (1797)
Dichterleben” (A Poet’s Life) (1826)
“Vittoria Accorombona” (The Roman Matron) (1840)

Biography Timeline

Ludwig Tieck was born on 31st May 1773 in Berlin, Germany. His father was a craftsman and Ludwig was educated at the Berlin Gymnasium School where he learns Greek, Latin and Italian.

1775: His sister the poet Sophie Tieck is born.

1792: He leaves school and attends the Universities of Halle, Gottingen and Erlangen. He meets up with his school friend Wilhelm Heinrich Wackenroder in Gottingen and they both study literature together.

1794: He returns to Berlin and attempts to make a living by writing. 

1795: He writes the novel “Die Geschichte des Herrn William Lovell” in three volumes which concerns the self-destruction of a sensitive young intellectual. He also begins to contribute a number of short stories to the  Straussfedern series published by a local bookseller.

1796: He writes the novel “Abdallah”.

1797: Tieck’s move more towards Romanticism is reflected in the series of plays and stories published under the title “Volksmärchen von Peter Lebrecht” which includes the supernatural “Der Blonde Eckbert” and the satire on Berlin literary life “Der Gestiefelte Kater”.  “Der Blonde Eckbert” is particularly praised by the writers August von Schlegel and his brother Friedrich von Schlegel. He plans the novel “Franz Sternbalds Wanderungen” with Wackenroder and the five-act play Karl von Berneck” set in the Middle Ages. He also pens a series of plays based on fairy tales, under the pseudonym Peter Leberecht, which includes “Ritter Blaubart” (Bluebeard) and “Der Gestiefelte Kater” (Puss in Boots).

1798: The novel “Franz Sternbalds Wanderungen” about artistic life in the Middle Ages is published. He gets married.

1799: Tieck and his new bride settle in Jena, Germany where he meets regularly with August and Friedrich von Schlegel and the poet Novalis. He publishes a translation of Shakespeare’s “The Tempest” and starts translating Cervante’s “Don Quixote”. He publishes the satirical drama “Prinz Zerbino” and begins “Romantische Dichtungen” which includes the dramatic poem Leben und Tod der Heiligen GenovevaLeben und Tod des Kleinen Rotkäppchens”. (The Life and Death of the Holy Genevieve).

1801: He moves to Dresden and then lives for a while at Ziebingen near Frankfurt as well as spending some months in Italy.

1803: He publishes a translation of “Minnelieder aus der schwäbischen Vorzeit”.

1804: He publishes the comedy in two parts “Kaiser Oktavianus” set in the Middle Ages.

1811: He produces two volumes of Elizabethan dramas entitles “Altenglisches Theater”.  

1812: He begins collecting his earlier stories and dramas under the title “Phantasus” which includes the stories. “Der Runenberg”, “Die Elfen”, “Der Pokal” and “Fortunat”.

1817: He visits England to collect material for his Shakespeare studies. 

1819: He settles permanently in Dresden and establishes a reputation as a fine reader of the dramatic poets.

1822: He begins to publish more short stories including “Die Gemälde”, “Die Reisenden”, “Die Verlobung” and “Des Lebens Überfluss”.

1824: He publishes the short novel “The Country Society”.

1825: He begins work as a literary adviser and critic at the court theatre in Dresden. He translates “The Pictures” and “The Betrothal” by Bishop Thirlwall.

1826: He publishes “Dichterleben” (A Poet’s Life) about the early years of William Shakespeare and begins work on the unfinished novel “Der Aufruhr in den Cevennen” (The Rebellion in the Cevennes).

1827: Thomas Carlyle translates “The Fair-haired Eckbert” and other stories by Tieck into English in his book “German Romance”.

1834: He publishes “Der Tod des Dichters” (Death of a Poet).

1836: He finally completes work on “Der Junge Tischlermeister” 

1840: He publishes the novel “Vittoria Accorombona” (The Roman Matron) which includes references to his idol the Italian poet Torquato Tasso.

1841: He edits the translation of Shakespeare by August Wilhelm Schlegel which was produced with the help of his daughter Dorothea Tieck. 

1842:  Friedrich Wilhelm the Fourth of Prussia invites him to Berlin where he is given a pension for the rest of his life and becomes a major literary figure.

1845: A translation of “Vittoria Accorombona” is published in English. 

1848: He publishes “Kritische Schriften”.

Ludwig Tieck died in Berlin on 28th April 1853. He was buried with full honours in the Dreifaltigkeitsfriedhof II cemetery in Berlin-Kreuzberg.