Friedrich Schiller

* 10.11.1759 in Marbach/ Neckar; ✝ 09.05.1805 in Weimar

Historian, Poet, Philosopher



Friedrich von Schiller is regarded as being one of the most important playwrights and poets in the German language. He studied law and medicine, after which he started working as a military doctor. However, as this occupation increasingly conflicted with his literary activities he left Stuttgart for Mannheim, where he took the temporary position of writer-in-residence at one of the town’s theatres. In 1785 Christian Gottfried Keller brought Schiller to Leipzig.  Four years later, in 1789, he was summoned to the University of Jena, where he taught history, releasing a wave of enthusiasm among the students.  From then on his precarious financial position gradually began to improve. Schiller, responsible among other things for editing the monthly periodical Die Horen (which Herder, Schlegel and Voß, among others, also worked on), managed to persuade Goethe to contribute to it; and we can trace back to this first collaboration the intense friendship between the two writers, with its free exchange of philosophical and scientific ideas.  In December 1799 Schiller moved to Weimar, where he was ennobled in 1802. After numerous illnesses, he died in Weimar three years later.

Schiller’s literary career began in 1781 with the publication of Die Räuber, written during the period of the ‘Sturm und Drang’ movement. In the following years, however, Schiller adjusted his preferences and became one of the foremost writers of Weimar Classicism. Besides his dramatic and poetic output stand several philosophical treatises on ethics and aesthetics.

The connection to Shakespeare was established when, during his years at university, Schiller read several of Shakespeare’s plays. They were to leave their mark on his early literary endeavours, which were influenced by Shakespeare’s histories, monologues and depictions of conflict between the generations. Already in 1781 this earned Schiller the epithet ‘the German Shakespeare’ in a review of the first edition of Die Räuber in the Erfurthischen Gelehrten Zeitung. He translated the Macbeth of the original in 1800.



Primary Literature

Secondary Literature

Album pages with this person

Citation and Licence

Schiller, Friedrich, 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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