Christoph Martin Wieland

* 05.09.1733 in Biberach an der Riss; ✝ 20.01.1813 in Weimar

Poet, Translator, Polemicist



Wieland was still a boy when he first became a literary enthusiast, reading the Latin classics and the literature of the Enlightenment – Voltaire, de Fontenelle and Bayle. His first work, the epic fragment ‘Herman’, which he sent to Bodmer, the Zurich literary luminary, was received positively and two years later Wieland accepted Bodmer’s invitation to settle in Zurich. In 1760 he moved back to Biberach where he was at first appointed Senator and later administrator of the Protestant chancellery.  Later on he became director of the Biberacher evangelische Komödiantengesellschaft (Biberach Protestant Theatrical Society) for which he directed William Shakespeare’s The Tempest in his own translation entitled Der erstaunliche Schiffbruch (‘The astonishing shipwreck’). The text is now sadly lost.

From 1761 on Wieland worked on his Shakespeare translations, which were published under the title Theatralische Werke between 1762 and 1766.  This eight volume collection included 22 dramas, many of them translated into German for the very first time. As Wieland had only poor texts to work from, lacked linguistic finesse, and could not access adequate dictionaries, the quality and faithfulness of his translations have always been a matter of debate. Yet the influence of Wieland’s translation on Sturm-und-Drang drama is undeniable.

After 1762 Wieland mostly resided in Weimar, where he had been given a position as educator of the sons of the Duchess Anna Amalia. Wieland developed into one of the leading Enlightenment writers in Germany. Later he became part of the ‘quadrumvirate’ of Weimar Classicism, the other members being Herder, Schiller, and Goethe. Between 1773 and 1789 Wieland edited the journal Der Teutsche Merkur. From 1796 to 1801 he published the journal Attisches Museum, and from 1802 to 1810 acted as co-publisher of its successor, Das neue attische Museum. Today, the Christoph Wieland Prize for outstanding translation is awarded on a biannual basis in his home town of Biberach.



Primary Literature

Secondary Literature

Album pages with this person

Citation and Licence

Wieland, Christoph Martin, in: The Digital Shakespeare Memorial Album. Edited by Christa Jansohn. URI: (Accessed on 14.04.2024)

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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