Hermann Hesse's Biography

hesse.jpgHermann Hesse was born on July 2, 1877 in Wuttenburg, Germany in a small town called Claw, known as, “the black forest town.” Herman, being from a religious family of Pietist missionaries and publishers, was expected to live up to the family tradition in theology. He attempted to follow that field with no success. Entering the Protestant seminary at Maulbronn in 1891 proved to be a failure, resulting in expulsion. His desire for writing started to developed in Tubingen after participating in a literary circle called Le Petit Cenacle.
Romantische Lieder and Eline Stunde Hinter Mitternacht, Hesse’s first pieces of work were published in 1899 at the age of 22. He then became a freelance writer in 1904, followed by his marriage to Maria Bernoulli. Maria, nine years older than him, was a photographer and together they had three children. Hesse’s inspiration for his famous novel Siddhartha, came from a culminated and Eastern religions studies visit to India in 1911.
Hesse took his family and permanently settled in Switzerland in 1912, Maria having suffered many years from mental instability and their third son being very ill. Because of his sons illness, he was in Kirchdorf as a foster child. Hesse’s health was also poor which resulted in his rejection from serving in the German army in 1914. Instead he settled for being in charge of the German Embassy’s Central Office for the Distribution of Books to German Prisoners. Hesse was called a traitor by his countrymen because of his tendency to attack his nation and military.
Many World War 1 veterans were attracted to Hesse’s novel Demain. Thomas Mann compared the novel to the famous Ulysses written by James Joyce.
One of Hesse’s most read novel Siddharta, was written during his period of life after leaving his family to move to Montagnola in southern Switzerland. After his divorce to Maria Bernoulli in 1924, he was married to Ruth Wenger did not last more than a few months. He had written Ruth Der Steppenwolf which is about Piktor, a spirit, who becomes a tree and because of the love of a young girl receives his youth again.
A young Jewish girl named Ninon Dolbin had started a correspondence of letters with Hesse in 1909 that resulted in their marriage in 1931. They moved to Casa Bodmer where his life became more relaxed. At one point, Hesse wrote for the Frankfurter Zeitung and was accused of supporting the Nazis by Jewish refugees in France. Then a contrast to that accusation, he was put on the Nazi blacklist for refusing to leave out parts about pogroms and anti-Semitism in His novel Narcissus and Goldmund.
After His marriage to Ninon Dolbin, Hesse began working on Das Glasperlenspiel that was published 12 years later in 1943.
Hesse received the Nobel Prize but then published no major works thereafter. During the years of 1945 through 1962, he wrote approximately 50 poems and 32 reviews for Swiss newspapers.