Wilhelm Heinrich Wackenroder

Portrait of Wilhelm Heinrich Wackenroder

Wilhelm Heinrich Wackenroder was a German writer and jurist who, along with Ludwig Tieck and the Schlegel brothers, co-founded German Romanticism. He was born in Berlin, Germany on 13th July 1773 and died there on 13th February 1798 aged 24.

Major Works

Herzensergießungen eines Kunstliebenden Klosterbruders” (Outpourings of an Art-Loving Monk) (1797)

Biography Timeline

Wilhelm Heinrich Wackenroder was born on 13th July 1773 in Berlin, Germany. His father was a senior civil servant. He was a very shy student at school and only enjoyed listening to music. He met another pupil Ludwig Tieck there and the two became lifelong friends.

1793: He enters the University of Erlangen and then moves on to the University of Gottingen.

1794: He returns to Berlin and is forced by his father to get a job with the Prussian civil service. He writes biographies or artists including Albrecht Durer, Leonardo da Vinci Michelangelo Buonarotti, and Raphael. He also writes a fictional biography of his own creation, the musician Joseph Berglinger, who acts as a mouthpiece for his views on art, which he believed should come from the heart not just the head.

1797: Tieck encourages him to get his work published and they appear in “Herzensergiessungen eines Kunstliebenden Klosterbruders” (Outpourings of an Art-Loving Monk). The work praises literary and artistic creations of the Northern Renaissance, a phrase Wackenroder coined to say that they were on a par with the Italian Renaissance and just as emotional. In Germany the “Outpourings” have been given the status similar to that of William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s “Lyrical Ballads” in that it marks the beginning of Romanticism in that country. It is thought likely that he contributed sections to Ludwig Tieck’s novel “Franz Sternbalds Wanderungen” (Franz Sternbald’s Wanderings). 

Wilhelm Heinrich Wackenroder died of typhoid on 13th February 1798 in Berlin, Germany. He was buried in Kirchhof Jerusalem und Neue Kirche, Kreuzberg, Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg, Berlin. (In 1799 Tieck published the continuation of “Outpourings” entitled “Phantasien über die Kunst” (Fantasies on Art) and added some of his own essays).