Places, People & Events in the Life of Theodor Storm
 

1817    9 Markt in Husum.

Markt 9, Husum. Built at the turn of the eighteenth century on the north side of the market square (see picture) the house has undergone frequent alterations since Storm's birth, but can still be seen in the square today. The author was born in the room upstairs on the left. The picture dates from the time of  his youth.

Source: Woolly, E. O. Theodor Storm’s World in Pictures (Bloomington, 1954)

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1825    The Great Storm of 1825         

Storms have been a recurring key and often tragic feature of North Frisian history dating back to 1164, the most severe occurring in 1362, the ‘Grote Manndränke’, and in 1634 the ‘Zweite Manndränke’, during which many thousands of people lost their lives; livestock and homes perished and the coastline of North Friesland was changed forever. During Storm’s boyhood the great storm of the night of the 3/4 February 1825 cost some 800 lives, washed many a farmstead away and caused the sea to rise to a record level of 4.43 metres (14.5 feet) above normal. Storm recalls this terrifying night in one setting or another throughout his works.  The earthen dykes, the main sea defences in the exceedingly flat region, have always played a significant role in nineteenth-century North Frisian life, particularly in its literature. Their symbolic significance, standing as they often do between life and death, is far greater than their physical presence. Storm’s epic work, Der Schimmelreiter (1888) (Trans. The Dykemaster, 1996), realistically captures and dramatically portrays the strong relationship and bond between the Frisian people and their dykes which is as true today as it was in his time.

Sources: Quedens, Georg. Die Halligen (Breklumer, 1975)

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1826  Gelehrtenschule

The Lateinische Schule (Latin School), or ‘Gelehrtenschule’, founded and built near the old church in Husum in 1527 by Hermann Tast, the Protestant Reformer, for future clerics or civil servants for whom proficiency in the language was a prerequisite for such careers. Storm himself attended the ‘Gelehrtenschule’ from 1826-1835. The school was re-sighted and rebuild in 1866/67 and finally pulled down in 1873. It had stood just east of the Marienkirche (St Mary’s church) on the site of the garden of the modern Wartschule. The school has mention in many of Storm’s works.

Sources:      Wooley, E. O. Theodor Storm’s World in Pictures (Bloomington, 1954)
  Laage, K. E. Theodor Storms Welt in Bildern (Heide, 1987)

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1826 Lena Wies   

Lena Wies (1797—1869), the storyteller and friend of Storm’s youth, furnished him with many tales and legends for his later work. Her real name was Magdalena Jürgens, but was generally called ‘Wies’ after her baker stepfather. In his sketch ‘Lena Wies’ Storm was to set up a literary monument to this 'Scheherazade' of his youth.

Source:  Wooley, E. O. Theodor Storm’s World in Pictures (Bloomington, 1954)

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1835 Katharineum Gymnasium

A former Franciscan Cloister converted into a school at the time of the Reformation. Before going on to university Storm attended the Katharineum for three semesters from the autumn of 1835 until Easter 1837. His student friendships and studies there greatly influenced his future life and work. It was at the Katherineum that he was introduced to the classics in German literature for the first time.

Source: Wooley, E. O. Theodor Storm’s World in Pictures (Bloomington, 1954)

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1835 Goethe (1749-1832)

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, born 1749 in Frankfurt am Main, is universally acknowledged to be one of the giants of world literature. He was perhaps the last European to attempt the mastery and many-sidedness of the great Renaissance personalities: critic, journalist, painter, theatre manager, statesman, educationalist, natural philosopher. The bulk and diversity of his output is in itself phenomenal: his writings on science alone fill some 14 volumes. In the lyric vein he displayed a command of a unique variety of theme and style; in fiction he ranged from fairy tales, which have proved a quarry for psychoanalysts, through the poetic concentration of his shorter novels and Novellen to the "open," symbolic form of Wilhelm Meister; in the theatre, from historical, political, or psychological plays in prose through blank-verse drama to his Faust, one of the masterpieces of modern literature. He died in Weimar 22 March 1832. Among his other major works are to be counted Wilhelm Meisters Lehrjahre (Wilhelm Meister's Apprenticeship; 1824) and Die Leiden des jungen Werthers (The Sorrows of Young Werther; 1774).

Source: “Goethe: Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.” Britannica CD 99 Standard Edition © 1994—1999 Encyclopedia Britannica, Inc.

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1835 Eichendorff  (1788-1857)

Poet and novelist, considered one of the great German Romantic lyricists. From a family of Silesian nobility, he studied law at Heidelberg (1807) where he published his first verse and became acquainted with the circle of Romantics. Continuing his studies in Berlin (1809-10), he met the leaders of the Romantic national movement. When the Prussian war of liberation broke out in 1813, Eichendorff enlisted in the Lützowsche Freikorps and fought against Napoleon. The French Revolution appears in the Novelle Das Schloss Dürande (1837) (Castle Dürande) and in the epic poem ‘Robert und Guiscard’ (1855). The Napoleonic Wars, which brought about the decline of the Eichendorff family and the loss of the Lubowitz castle, are the sources of nostalgia in his poetry. During these war years he wrote two of his most important prose works: a long Romantic novel, Ahnung und Gegenwart (1819) (Premonition and Present), which is pervaded by the hopelessness and despair of the political situation and the need for a spiritual, rather than a political, cure for moral ills; and Novellen des Marmorbilds (1819) (Novellen of a Marble Statue), which contains supernatural elements and is described by Eichendorff as a fairy tale. After the war he held posts in the Prussian civil service in Gdansk, Poland, and Königsberg, Russia and, after 1831, in Berlin. Eichendorff's poetry of this period (Gedichte, 1837), particularly the poems expressing his special sensitivity to nature, gained the popularity of folk songs and inspired such composers as Schumann, Mendelssohn, and Richard Strauss. In 1826 he published his most important prose work, Aus dem Leben eines Taugenichts (Trans. Memoirs of a Good-for-Nothing, 1955), which, with its combination of the dreamlike and the realistic, is considered a high point of Romantic fiction. In 1844 he retired from the civil service to devote himself entirely to his writing, publishing his history of German literature and several translations of Spanish authors.

Source: “Eichendorff.” Britannica CD 99 Standard Edition © 1994—1999 Encyclopedia Britannica, Inc.

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1835 Uhland (1787-1862)

German Romantic poet and political figure who was an important figure in the development of German medieval studies. Uhland studied law and classical and medieval literature at the University of Tübingen. He wrote his first poems while in Tübingen, publishing Vaterländische Gedichte (Fatherland Poems) in 1815. It was the first of some 50 editions of the work issued during his lifetime. The collection, which was inspired by the contemporary political situation in Germany, reflected both his serious study of folklore and his ability to create ballads in the folk style.

From 1812 to 1814 Uhland served as secretary in the Ministry of Justice at Stuttgart. He then practiced law and began to support the struggle for parliamentary democracy in Württemberg. From 1819 to 1827 he represented Tübingen in the Ständeversammlung (parliament), and from 1826 to 1829 he represented Stuttgart. In 1829 Uhland was appointed professor at Tübingen, but, when he was refused leave of absence by the university to sit as a liberal in the Landtag (provincial diet), he resigned the professorship (1833). In 1848 he was a member of the German National Assembly in Frankfurt.

The spirit of German Romanticism and nationalism inspired much of Uhland's poetry, as did his political career and his researches into the literary heritage of Germany. His poetry utilizes the classical form developed by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and Friedrich von Schiller, but his naive, precise, and graceful style is uniquely his own.

Source: “Uhland, Ludwig.” Britannica CD 99 Standard Edition © 1994—1999 Encyclopedia Britannica, Inc.

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1835 Heinrich Heine (1797-1856)

Christian Johann Heinrich Heine, original name (until 1825) Harry Heine. German poet whose international literary reputation and influence were established by the Buch der Lieder (1827) (The Book of Songs), frequently set to music, though the more sombre poems of his last years are also highly regarded. Born of Jewish parents, he attended the universities of Bonn, Berlin and Göttingen where he finally took a degree in law with absolutely minimal achievement in 1825. In that same year, in order to open up the possibility of a civil service career, closed to Jews at that time, he converted to Protestantism with little enthusiasm and some resentment. He never practiced law, however, nor held a position in government service; and his student years had been primarily devoted not to the studies for which his uncle had been paying but to poetry, literature, and history. When the July Revolution of 1830 occurred in France, Heine did not, like many of his liberal and radical contemporaries, race to Paris at once but continued his more or less serious efforts to find some sort of paying position in Germany. In the spring of 1831, however, he finally went to Paris where he was to live for the rest of his life almost in political exile through his critical writings of Germany, though growing anti-Semitism played its part. He died a long lingering death over eight years in Paris, through gradual paralysis of the limbs and blindness, confining him to what he described as his ‘mattress grave’.

Major Works include: Gedichte (1821); Reisebilder, vol. 1: ‘Die Heimkehr,’ ‘Die Harzreise,’ ‘Nordsee I,’ first of the ‘North Sea’ cycles (1826); vol. 2: ‘Nordsee II,’ ‘Nordsee III,’ ‘Ideen. Das Buch Le Grand,’ ‘Briefe aus Berlin’ (1827); vol. 3 included ‘Reise von München nach Genoa’ and ‘Die Bäder von Lucca’ (1829); vol. 4 included ‘Die Stadt Lucca’ and ‘Englische Fragmente’ (1831); Buch der Lieder (1827), poems; Deutschland. Ein Wintermärchen (1844), satirical verse; Neue Gedichte (1844), second collection of shorter poems; ‘Atta Troll’. ‘Ein Sommernachtstraum’ (1847), mock-epic poem; ‘Der Doktor Faust’, and ‘Hebräische Melodien’; Gedichte 1853 und 1854 (1854); Lutezia (1854), political essays written 1840-43; Vermischte Schriften (1854), included ‘Geständnisse’ and ‘Götter im Exil.’

Source: ‘Heine, Heinrich.’ Britannica CD 99 Standard Edition © 1994—1999 Encyclopedia Britannica, Inc.

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1835 Emanuel von Geibel (1815-1884)

Lübeck poet and dramatist who was the centre of a circle of literary figures drawn together in Munich by Maximilian II of Bavaria. After completing his university studies, Geibel devoted himself to travel and became, in 1838, tutor to the Russian ambassador in Athens. In 1840 his extremely successful Gedichte (Poems) appeared that earned him a lifelong pension from the king of Prussia, Frederick Wilhelm IV. Returning to Lübeck he taught at the Gymnasium until 1852 when Maximilian called him to Munich as an honorary professor of German literature and aesthetics. In 1868 he was dismissed by Maximilian's successor because of his incautious support of Prussian hegemony and spent the rest of his life living on his pension. Geibel's lyrics: Zeitstimmen (1841) (‘Voices of the Times’), Junius-Lieder (1848) (‘June Songs’), and Spätherbstblätter (1877) (Late Autumn Leaves’) reflect the taste of the time: classical, idealistic, and nontopical. He also made excellent translations of Romantic and ancient poets, Spanisches Liederbuch (1852) (‘Spanish Songbook’), and, with Paul von Heyse, Klassisches Liederbuch (1875) (‘Classical Songbook’).

Source: ‘Geibel, Emanuel von’. Britannica CD 99 Standard Edition © 1994—1999 Encyclopedia Britannica, Inc.

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1839 Theodor Mommsen (1817-1903)

German historian and writer, famous for his masterpiece Römische Geschichte (‘The History of Rome’). Awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1902. Studied history in Kiel from 1839 until 1843. Lived with Storm in the Flämischen Strasse (12). Although more an historian than a poet, he used the means of poetry and enjoyed exercising his poetic talent. An excellent testimony to his abilities is the Liederbuch dreier Freunde (‘Songbook of Three Friends’), which he published in 1843 together with his brother Tycho and Theodor Storm.

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1839 Eduard Mörike (1804-1875)

One of Germany's greatest lyric poets. After studying theology at Tübingen (1822-26), Mörike held several curacies before becoming, in 1834, pastor of Cleversulzbach, the remote Württemberg village immortalized in Der alte Turmhahn, where inhabitants and pastor are seen through the whimsical but percipient eyes of an old weathercock. When only 39 Mörike retired on a pension, but after his marriage to Margarete von Speeth in               1851, he supplemented his pension by lecturing on German literature at a girls' school in Stuttgart. The variety of Mörike's small output is astonishing. Everything he wrote has its own distinctive flavour. His novel, Maler Nolten (1832), explores the realm of the subconscious and the mysterious forces linking the main character and his early love even beyond the grave. Mörike's poems in folk-song style and his fairy tales also show the influence of German romanticism, though his best folk tale, Das Stuttgarter Hutzelmännlein (1853), is peculiarly his own, with its Swabian background and humour. In his Mozart auf der Reise nach Prag (1856) (trans. Mozart’s Journey to Prague), which he read to Storm in 1855 during the latter’s visit to his home in Stuttgart, Mörike penetrates deeper into Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's personality than do many longer studies. It is, however, as a lyric poet that Mörike is at the height of his powers. Mörike worked with free rhythms, sonnets, regular stanza forms, and, more particularly in his later poems, classical metres with equal virtuosity.

Sources:             ‘Mörike, Eduard Friedrich’. Britannica CD 99 Standard Edition © 1994—1999 Encyclopedia Britannica, Inc.
  Laage, K. E. Theodor Storms Welt in Bildern (Heide, 1987)

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1844 Constanze Esmarch (1825-1865)

Storm’s cousin and first wife. Eldest daughter of the mayor of Segeberg. Their relationship blossomed after her visit to Husum in 1843 when she was in her eighteenth year. The possible consequences of their marriage for the future mental and physical health of their children were to be sources of constant worry to Storm. Many of Storm’s lyrics relate to her and her death in 1865 deeply affected him. There were seven surviving children of the marriage, three sons and four daughters.

Source: Vinçon, Hartmut. Storm (Rowohlt, Reinbeck bei Hamburg, 1972)

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1844 North Frisian National Festival 

The awakening of the national conscience throughout Europe during the 1840s created numerous opposition movements that had the objective of strengthening or achieving independence. Such movements developed in Denmark, Schleswig and Holstein. The series of festivals held in Bredstedt, North Friesland, 1844-1846, had common cause with these social and political trends. It was reported that at least 6000 people attended the 1844 festival in Bredstedt and who came from all over the region, Helgoland and other parts of the duchies. The North Frisian coat-of-arms with crown, cauldron (Grütztopf) and half a German eagle bearing the bold motto: ‘Liewer dud, as Slaw’ (‘Better dead than slave’), was to be seen that day on many of the flags waving in the wind. The day saw dancing, singing, political speech-making and ‘simple but wholesome food’. Storm’s progressive deep and close involvement in such political movements towards independence from Denmark was ultimately to lead to his exile in 1852.

Source: Bantelmann, Albert, et al (ed.) Geschichte Nordfrieslands (Heide, 1996).

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1848 Schleswig-Holstein Freedom Movement:

The uprisings within Schleswig-Holstein against Denmark were inextricably linked to the revolutionary events throughout Germany and Europe in 1848, yet were focused on the long-standing conflict over Denmark’s authority over the partially German-speaking duchy of Schleswig. The duchy of Holstein, with its approximately 500,000 inhabitants was completely German-speaking, had been a member of the Holy Roman Empire and was admitted to full membership of the German Confederation  in 1815. In contrast, Schleswig, with approximately 400,000 inhabitants of which at least half spoke Danish, had never been in the Holy Roman Empire and was not in the German Confederation; it was subject only to the authority of the Danish king. When King Frederick of Denmark finally issued a proclamation declaring that Schleswig, as part of Denmark, would have a common constitution with Denmark, Prussian troops crossed the Eider and by the end of April had driven the Danes out of Schleswig. In May elected representatives from Schleswig-Holstein were received with enthusiasm by the Frankfurt Parliament, but not until July 1850 did the first Schleswig War officially end.

Source: Carr, William. The Origins of the Wars of German Unification (London & New York, 1991)

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1848 Patriotic Volunteers Society

Society set up to organize support for a candidate in the elections to the constituent German National Assembly in Frankfurt. The candidate was Storm’s wife's uncle, J. C. Esmarch. Storm's involvement soon acquired a further dimension. After the Provisional Government had proclaimed the freedom of the press, the Democrat leader, Theodor Ohlshausen, had recruited Theodor Mommsen to edit the Schleswig-Holsteinische Zeitung, the new government's quasi official organ. Mommsen in turn recruited Storm as a contributor. His local reports, which only came to light in the 1960s, illuminate his stance on key issues.

Source: Jackson, David A. Theodor Storm. The Life and Works of a Democratic Humanitarian (Oxford, 1992)

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1850 Friedrichstadt

The Danish-Schleswig-Holstein conflict. The siege and bombardment of Danish-occupied Friedrichstadt (south of Husum) by Schleswig-Holstein forces following their defeat at Idstedt (25. July).  Schleswig-Holstein forces made one last but futile local effort to rid the duchies of Danish control; an effort that resulted in much loss of life. The conflict had lasted three years (1848-50) and only ended when the Great Powers pressured Prussia into accepting the London Convention of 1852. Under the terms of this peace agreement, the German Confederation returned Schleswig-Holstein to Denmark. In an agreement with Prussia under the London Protocol of 1852, the Danish government in return undertook not to tie Schleswig more closely to Denmark than to its sister duchy of Holstein. The personal consequences for Theodor Storm of the defeat were to be serious resulting in his eventual political exile in 1852. Storm’s poetry and letters at the time describe the defeat and carnage.

Source: Stolz, Gerd. Der Kampf um Friedrichstadt im Jahre 1850 (Husum, 2000)

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1852 Paul Heyse (1830-1914):

German writer born in Berlin and prominent member of the traditionalist Munich school who received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1910. At the age of 18 became a member of the Berlin Literary Club (Dichtervereinigung) ‘Tunnel über der Spree’. After completing his studies he became an independent scholar and was called to Munich by Maximilian II of Bavaria. There, with the poet Emanuel Geibel (1815-1884), he became the head of the Munich circle of writers, who sought to preserve traditional artistic values from the encroachments of political radicalism, materialism, and realism. He became a master of the carefully wrought short story, a chief example of which is L'Arrabbiata (1855). A collection of his works appeared under the title Das Buch der Freundschaft (1883-84). His later correspondence with Storm between the years 1853-1888 was extensive, resulting in some 263 letters.

Sources:   Laage. K. E. Theodor Storm’s Welt in Bildern (Verlag Boyens, Heide, 1987)
  ‘Heyse’ Britannica CD 99 Standard Edition © 1994—1999 Encyclopedia Britannica, Inc

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1852 Theodor Fontane (1819-1898)

Writer, considered to be the first master of modern Realistic fiction in Germany. He began his literary career in 1848 as a journalist, serving for several years in England as correspondent for two Prussian newspapers. From this position he wrote several books on English life, including Ein Sommer in London (1854) (A Summer in London) and Jenseits des Tweed (1860) (Across the Tweed: A Tour of Mid-Victorian Scotland). From 1860 to 1870 he wrote for the conservative newspaper Kreuzzeitung, and between 1862 and 1882 published a four-volume account of his travels in the Mark Brandenburg. He combined historical and anecdotal material with descriptions of the Prussian landscape and the seats of historic families.  His best work was produced after he became the drama critic for the liberal newspaper Vossische Zeitung and was freed from the earlier conservative restraint. Turning to the novel late in life, he wrote, at the age of 56, Vor dem Sturm (1878) (Before the Storm), considered to be a masterpiece in the genre of the historical novel. In several of his novels Fontane also dealt with the problem of women's role in domestic life; L'Adultera (1882) (The Woman Taken in Adultery), Irrungen, Wirrungen (1888) (Trans. Entanglements), Frau Jenny Treibel (1893), and Effi Briest (1895) are among his best. Effi Briest, in particular, is known for its superb characterization and the skilful portrayal of the milieu of Fontane's native Brandenburg.

Source:  ‘Fontane’. Britannica CD 99 Standard Edition © 1994—1999 Encyclopedia Britannica, Inc.

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1856 Heiligenstadt

A small town in the Eichsfeld, central Germany later to become the partial setting for Storm’s Novelle Pole Poppenspäler (1874). Like the whole Eichsfeld area, the town had belonged to the Bishopric of Mainz until it was transferred to Prussia in the early 1800s. In 1858 eighty percent of the under five thousand inhabitants were Catholic. There was, however, a small Jewish community. The town, which was not linked to the railway network and had to be reached by coach from Göttingen, was still ringed by town walls. Its three gates were closed each night, and a night-watchman blew the hours from a church tower. Street lighting was non-existent; in the main street water was drawn from the gully flowing past the houses. The area was economically backward.

            Storm’s first impressions of the town from the Richteberg as he travelled in a coach from Göttingen were somewhat uncertain and hesitant:

‘Here we are then! The first stretch of the journey was exceedingly beautiful, forests, hills and valleys, in between rich fields of cereals; then the range of hills grew sparser until finally darkly wooded hills lay before us; basically, there lay a town with church spires. “Heiligenstadt!” said the coachman. My eyes almost filled with tears. After the three-hour journey the coach then descended to the town below.  Heaven forbid, what a town! Mud huts and shacks, houses, which would not be offered for money at home. It is incomprehensible that the genial people of Heiligenstadt, as they are known everywhere, could exist in such places.  Only a few solitary good houses stood among them, the best was our abode, obviously an old palace.  Heiligenstadt was the residence of the Elector (ecclesiastical) of Mainz, seen by the two or three old churches and the old Elector’s palace, the present law court. Last night we received further confirmation of the geniality of the people here. A large riflemen’s club paraded through the streets with noise and music, it was the third day of its festivities and there was dancing today.  [. . . ] I’ve slept badly; a piano played for an hour where we were -- very well, by the way; every moment the post horn sounded, there appears to be heavy traffic here, and to cap it the night watchman conducts his rounds to the blast of a horn. [ . . . ] Overall, in spite of the poverty, the impression is not a bad one, the hills peer everywhere into the town; it must be most pleasant here in the country in the summer and extremely quiet in the living rooms during the winter! The water here is good.’ 

(Letter to Constanze 20. 8. 1856)

‘The Harz mountains can be seen nine miles away on a clear autumn afternoon, blue and hazy,  and even the tower on the Brocken can be seen with just the eyes.’

 (Letter to Rudolf Hermann Schnee vom 8. Oct. 1856)

 

Source:   Jackson, David A. Theodor Storm. The Life and Works of a Democratic Humanitarian (Oxford, 1992)
  Goldammer, Peter. Theodor Storm. Briefe. Vol. 1 (Berlin and Weimar, 1982)

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1857 Alexander von Wussov (1820-89),

Prussian nobleman and Landrat and close friend of Storm’s in Heiligenstadt whom he found ‘of extensive education and with a youthful admiration for the beautiful’. Storm found in Wussow the mental stimulus he needed although throughout his life he remained highly critical of the Prussian nobility. Storm’s Novellen Im Schloß, criticizing the behaviour of the nobility, brought him into conflict with von Wussow’s wife, Anna (1821—1893).

Sources: Laage. K. E. Theodor Storm’s Welt in Bildern (Verlag Boyens, Heide, 1987)
  Woolly, E. O. Theodor Storm’s World in Pictures (Bloomington, 1954)

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1863 German Confederation

Established at the end of the Napoleonic Wars at the Congress of Vienna (1814-15) as a new organization of the states of central Europe in place of the Holy Roman Empire. This was a loose political association in which most of the rights of sovereignty remained in the hands of the member governments. There was no central executive or judiciary, only a federal Diet meeting in Frankfurt am Main to consider common legislation. The delegates who participated in its deliberations were representatives appointed by and responsible to the rulers whom they served. It was designed essentially to defend the interests of the secondary states and the Habsburgs. The former, jealously guarding the independence and importance they had gained during the period of French hegemony, were opposed to any reform that might limit their sovereignty. The latter believed that only a decentralized form of political union in Germany would give them enough freedom of action to pursue their non-German objectives. The confederation was thus from the outset an ally of localism and traditionalism.

Source: ‘Denmark’. Britannica CD 99 Standard Edition © 1994—1999 Encyclopedia Britannica, Inc.

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1864 German-Danish War

In 1863, in the belief that Prussia was preoccupied with the Polish rebellion against Russia and in expectation of support from Sweden, the Danish government separated Holstein from the rest of the state and conferred a joint constitution on the kingdom and Schleswig. This 'November constitution' meant that Schleswig was annexed to Denmark, in contravention of the agreements of 1851 and 1852. Prussia, however, under the leadership of Otto von Bismarck (1815-1898), reacted immediately, and in February 1864 war broke out between Denmark on the one side and Prussia and Austria on the other. After the Danish defeat at Dybbøl and the consequent occupation of the whole of Jutland, Denmark was forced by the Treaty of Vienna to surrender all of Schleswig and Holstein to Prussia and Austria.

Source: ‘Germany’. Britannica CD 99 Standard Edition © 1994—1999 Encyclopedia Britannica, Inc.

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1865 Convention of Gastein

Also called the CONVENTION OF BADGASTEIN. An agreement between Austria and Prussia reached on 20 Aug. 1865, after their seizure of the duchies of Schleswig and Holstein from Denmark in 1864; it temporarily postponed the final struggle between them for hegemony over Germany. The pact provided that both the emperor of Austria and the king of Prussia were to be sovereign over the duchies, Prussia administering Schleswig and Austria administering Holstein (which was sandwiched between Schleswig to the north and Prussian territory to the south). Both duchies were to be admitted to the Zollverein (German Customs Union), headed by Prussia, though Austria was not a member. This joint administration led to disputes between the two powers that ended with Austria's defeat and exclusion from Germany (1866).

Source: ‘Gastein, Convention of’. Britannica CD 99 Standard Edition © 1994—1999 Encyclopedia Britannica, Inc.

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1865 Ivan Turgenev (1818-1883)

Russian born novelist from the province of Orel, poet, and playwright, whose major works include the short-story collection Zapiski okhotnika (1852) (A Sportsman's Sketches) and the novels Rudin (1856), Dvoyanskoe gnezdo (1859) (Home of the Gentry), Nakanune (1860) (On the Eve) and Otsy i deti (1862) (Fathers and Sons). His novels are noted for the poetic atmosphere of their county settings and offer realistic, affectionate portrayals of the Russian peasantry and penetrating studies of the Russian intelligentsia who were attempting to move the country into a new age. Turgenev poured into his writings not only a deep concern for the future of his native land but also an integrity of craft that has ensured his place in Russian literature. The many years that he spent in western Europe were due in part to his personal and artistic stand as a liberal between the reactionary tsarist rule and the spirit of revolutionary radicalism that held sway in contemporary artistic and intellectual circles in Russia. Storm was well acquainted with Turgenev’s work from an early age. The two met in Baden-Baden following Storm’s wife’s death.

Sources: Turgenev’. Britannica CD 99 Standard Edition © 1994—1999 Encyclopedia Britannica, Inc.‘
  Thorlby, Anthony (ed.). The Penguin Companion to Literature (2). European (Harmondsworth, 1969).

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1866 Dorothea Jensen (1828-1903)

Storm’s second wife and daughter of Senator Peter Jensen. An ‘old flame’ from the early days of his engagement to Constanze, often called by friends Doris or Do. When Constanze recognised the nearness of death, she advised her husband to make Doris the second mother of his children. He married Doris in the village of Hattstedt, north of Husum, on 13 June, 1866. The trees by the parsonage under which they stood after their marriage can still be seen today. She took good care of the young Storms, whose father never regretted his second marriage. They had one child, Frederike (Dodo) (1868-1939). From his love for Doris, Storm was stimulated to write the Novellen: Angelika and Viola tricolor.

Source: Woolly, E. O. Theodor Storm’s World in Pictures (Bloomington, 1954)

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1867 North German Confederation

German NORDDEUTSCHER BUND, union of the German states north of the Main River formed in 1867 under Prussian hegemony after Prussia's victory over Austria in the Seven Weeks' War (1866). Berlin was its capital, Kaiser Wilhelm I of Prussia (1797-1888) was its president, and the Prussian chancellor, Otto von Bismarck (1815-1898), was also its chancellor. Its constitution served as a model for that of the German Empire, with which it merged in 1871.

Source: ‘North German Confederation’. Britannica CD 99 Standard Edition © 1994—1999 Encyclopedia Britannica, Inc.

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1870 Franco-Prussian War

Also called FRANCO-GERMAN WAR (July 19, 1870-May 10, 1871) in which a coalition of German states led by Prussia defeated France. The war marked the end of French hegemony in continental Europe and resulted in the creation of a unified Germany. Prussia's defeat of Austria in the earlier Seven Weeks' War in 1866 had confirmed Prussian leadership of the German states and threatened France's position as the dominant power in Europe. The immediate cause of the Franco-German War, however, was the candidacy of Prince Leopold of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen (related to the Prussian royal house) for the Spanish throne which had been left vacant when Queen Isabella II had been deposed in 1868.. The French emperor, Napoleon III, declared war on Prussia on July 19, 1870 on being advised that the French army could defeat Prussia; that such a victory would restore his declining popularity in France. The French were convinced that the reorganization of their army in 1866 had made it superior to the German armies. Bismarck, for his part, saw war with France as an opportunity to bring the South German states into unity with the Prussian-led North German Confederation and build a strong German Empire.

Source: ‘Franco-German War’. Britannica CD 99 Standard Edition © 1994—1999 Encyclopedia Britannica, Inc.

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1876 Hans Storm

Storm’s eldest son and whom he called his ‘Sorgenkind’ (worrisome child). Alcoholic, and forever in poor health, he was never cut out for the medical profession his father insisted on him having. Repeated academic failures and requests for money led to long conflicts between father and son. Losing one medical post after another he final died of tuberculosis alone in a hospital in Aschaffenburg, southern Germany in December 1886, his father being too ill at the time to be with him.  Storm’s difficult relationship with Hans, whom he loved dearly, became the centre piece of his ‘father-son conflict’ Novellen such as Carsten Curator (1878) and Hans und Heinz Kirch (1882).

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1877 Gottfried Keller (1819-1890)

Swiss writer. The son of a carpenter whose early death left the family in poverty. On leaving school in 1834 he turned to desultory studies and painting which he gave up through lack of talent. A first volume of poems (1846) brought him a scholarship from the Zürich town council which enabled him to complete his education in Germany, first in Heidelberg (1848) then in Berlin (1850-5). On returning to Zürich he became town clerk there from 1861 until 1871. The first version of his autobiographical novel, Der grüne Heinrich (Trans. Green Henry) begun in 1846 appeared in its final form in 1878-80. Although least successful in filling the social canvass of city life, Keller showed himself master rather of the small town and village world in his ‘Dorf Geschichten’, Die Leute von Seldwyla (1856--1874) (The Folk of Seldwyla), ten stories set in ‘Seldwyla’, an imaginary Swiss town that includes the much acclaimed short story ‘Romeo und Julia auf dem Dorfe (Trans. A Village Romeo and Juliet). Further works of acclaim include Sieben Legenden (1872) (Seven Legends), fairy tale episodes from the lives of the saints and of the Virgin Mary, Züricher Novellen (1878) which concludes some of the themes of Die Leute von Seldwyla, and Martin Salander (1886), a realistic accounts of the intrigues and infamies of contemporary bürgerlich society. The correspondence between Storm and Keller was prolific and of long duration, from 1877 until the latter’s death. Storm had great respect and admiration for Keller’s work.

Source: Thorlby, Anthony (ed.). The Penguin Companion to Literature (2). European (Harmsondsworth, 1969).

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1880 Hademarschen

Storm's letters of the '70's report frequent visits to the village of Hademarschen, south of Husum, near Hanerau in Holstein, where Johannes his brother had built up a successful enterprise as timber merchant and owner of a sawmill. Everything pointed to Hademarschen as Storm’s ultimate retreat in retirement, and some time before his mother's death he had bought a building plot there and had numerous trees and shrubs planted. Storm enjoyed planning every detail of his 'Altersvilla' and it might have been a young man with all his life before him when he wrote to Erich Schmidt on 18 June 1880 of climbing dangerously from one ladder to another up the skeleton of the house, in his future study dreaming of days to come, gazing out over the countryside and saying to himself: 'How splendid it is to be alive, just to be alive!'  Nowadays the house, rather plain-looking, is among a row of others, and the trees planted by Storm have grown so as to obscure the view on the garden side, but in 1880 the countryside was still as Storm described it to Emil Kuh in a letter written on a visit to his brother some six years earlier:

'Round about are arable fields, framed in luxuriant vegetation, meadows and gentle wooded slopes which rise up hazily one behind the other; one can see an immense distance.  Nearby, lonely grassy paths run between banks, which as everywhere here are covered with a great variety of trees and bushes, birches, honey suckle and a tangle of blackberries; the gorse, of which there is a great deal here, has of course done flowering, but the air is fragrant with wild thyme, heather and the honeysuckle in the hedges . . . '

(Letter to Emil Kuh 3.8.1873)

Although at times he was to miss greatly the activity and social life in Husum his 'Altersvilla' period provided him with the peace he longed for resulting in such masterful Novellen as Der Herr Etatsrat (The Dyke Administrator), Hans und Heinz Kirch (Trans. Hans and Heinz Kirch, 1999), Schweigen (Silence),  Zur Chronik von Grieshuus (Trans. A Chapter in the History of Grieshuus, 1908), John Riew, Ein Fest auf Haderslevhuus (A Celebration at Haderslevhuus), Bötjer Basch, Ein Doppelgänger (John Glückstadt) (A Double), and finally just before his death his finest work for which he is ever remembered: Der Schimmelreiter (1888) (Trans. The Dykemaster, 1996).

Source: Mare, Margaret Theodor Storm and his World (Cambridge, 1976)

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