August Wilhelm Iffland

* 19.04.1759 in Hannover; ✝ 22.09.1814 in Berlin

Actor, Playwright, Artistic Director



Iffland, the son of a middle-class family, nourished his passion for the stage both with visits to the theatre and with his own appearances in school productions. However, his decision to follow a stage career led to his being estranged from his family in 1777. He began working under Ekhof at the Gothaer Court Theatre, then moved to Mannheim in 1799, where he joined with Wolfgang von Dalberg in his efforts to found a German National Theatre. He enjoyed great success as an actor, for example in 1782 as Franz Moor in the original production of Schiller’s Die Räuber. Although Iffland supported Dalberg in his ambition of opening the German stage to Shakespeare, bourgeois tragedy remained his theatrical and literary ideal, and it was with this in mind that he began his very successful activity as a playwright.

In 1796 he moved from Mannheim to Berlin, where he took over the direction of the Berlin National Theatre. The programme he introduced placed a consistent emphasis on stage classics, focusing in particular on Calderon, Lope de Vega, Corneille and Shakespeare. Also included were contemporary playwrights, such as Kotzebue. Along with Ekhof and Schröder, Iffland is considered to be one of the great middle-class stage reformers, characterized above all things by the ‘natural’ style which was a hallmark of bourgeois theatre.

Shakespeare Roles


Primary Literature

Secondary Literature

Album pages with this person

Citation and Licence

Iffland, August Wilhelm, in: The Digital Shakespeare Memorial Album. Edited by Christa Jansohn. URI: (Accessed on 30.05.2024)

This text is published under the following licence: CC BY-ND 3.0 DE. Digitzed media reproduced with the permission of the library of Birmingham.

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