Johann Wolfgang von Goethe


German poet, dramatist, writer, scientist, statesman, theatre director, and critic Johann Wolfgang von Goethe was born on August 28, 1749 at Free Imperial City of Frankfurt, Holy Roman Empire. In addition to treatises on botany, anatomy, and colour, his writings also contain plays, poetry, literary criticism, and aesthetic works. He is recognised as the finest and most influential writer in the German language, and from the late 18th century to the present, Western literature, politics, and philosophy have been greatly influenced by his works.

Goethe’s parents were Johann Caspar Goethe, an Imperial Councillor who had studied law in Leipzig, and Catharina Elisabeth Textor. Johann and his sister Cornelia Friederica Christiana ( born 1750) were the sole survivors as their other siblings died at a young age.

Goethe and his sister were homeschooled by their father and private tutors taught them, Latin, Greek, Biblical Hebrew (briefly),French, Italian, and English. Goethe also took lessons in dancing, riding, and fencing. His father wanted to give them the best of education so that they could enjoy all the facilities that he himself lacked.

Initially, Goethe took keen interest in drawing but found his true love in literature. He started reading the works of Friedrich Gottlieb Klopstock and Homer.

Besides literature, he was attracted towards Theater and puppet shows fascinated him. Goethe also got to know some of the  Frankfurt actors. He displayed a crush on  Gretchen in his earliest literary works;  she would later make a return in his Faust,  and he would succinctly summarise their  exploits in Dichtung und Wahrheit. 

He had great affection for Caritas Meixner  (1750–1773), a wealthy Worms trader’s daughter and his sister’s friend who would later wed G. F. Schuler. Inspite of having studied law in Leipzig University from 1765 to 1768, he took a keen interest in attending poetry lessons of the university’s professor Christian Fürchtegott Gellert. Goethe fell in love with the daughter of an innkeeper and carpenter in Leipzig, Anna Katharina Schönkopf, and wrote jovial Rococo rhymes about her. He published Annette, his first book of poems, under an assumed name in 1770. Goethe quit his studies and returned to Frankfurt by August 1768.

Goethe’s health condition worsened in Frankfurt and in the days that followed, his relationship with his father was greatly strained. His mother and sister nursed him back to health and by April 1770, he went to complete his studies from the the University of Strasbourg.

He was equally interested in the study of Natural Science and published his first scientific work ” the Metamorphosis of Plants” in 1788 after his return from the trip to Italy. He became the managing director of the theatre at Weimar in 1791 and formed a close friendship with the dramatist, historian, and philosopher Friedrich Schiller in 1794, and premiered in his plays until Schiller’s death in 1805.

Goethe died from a heart failure 22 March 1832 at Weimar, Grand Duchy of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach, German Confederation.

His most popular works are:

His poem translated in English



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