Ludwig Tieck

* 31.05.1773 in Berlin; ✝ 28.04.1853 in Berlin

Writer, Scholar, Translator



Ludwig Tieck, having first as a child come into contact with Shakespeare in the form of performances at the Berlin National Theatre, really got to grips with English drama during his years as a university student in Göttingen (1792-1794) – which may have had something to do with how well-stocked the university library was.  Thus Tieck wrote to Wackenroder on 30th November 1792: ‘I have given myself over body and soul to Shakespeare, and have never studied as devotedly as I do now; in eight days I have managed to make a copy of “The Tempest” in its entirety, and am currently collecting a quantity of glosses and comments’ (Wackenroder: Werke und Briefe. 2 vols. Ed. Friedrich von der Leyen. Jena, 1910.  P. 113). In 1799 he came across a group of early-romantic writers, among them Novalis, August Wilhelm and Friedrich von Schlegel. Tieck was at this time already a very active writer, translator and editor.

His most important contribution to German Shakespeare reception was the involvement in the  complete edition of Shakespeare’s works, first begun by August Wilhelm von Schlegel some years earlier.  Completed in 1833, this edition soon established itself as the standard for German Shakespeare translations. However, Tieck’s participation in the project was largely limited to providing the commentary and some of the revisions as the translations were either kept from Schlegel, or produced by Baudissin and Tieck’s daughter, Dorothea. This also applies to Shakespeare’s Vorschule (1823-1829), to which Dorothea contributed the translation of the sonnets, and to Tieck’s translations of largely apocryphal Shakespeare plays, where he collaborated with Baudissin on Vier Schauspiele von Shakespeare (1836). Furthermore, Tieck published a number of treatises on Shakespeare (reprinted in the later collected editions of his work) but was unable to complete his envisioned comprehensive monograph on the writer. Shakespeare also features prominently in the drama fragment ‘Sommernacht’ (1789) and the later novella Dichterleben (1826-1831).

In 1841 King Friedrich Wilhelm IV summoned Tieck to Berlin, where he was able to assist the General Supervisor of the Royal Theatrical Productions to realize Greek tragedies and Shakespeare’s plays on the stage. Tieck took over the dramaturgic direction for the royal theatres and until his death in 1851 worked conscientiously at editing literary classics and writing prefaces for poetic works of all kinds. 

Shakespeare Translations



Primary Literature

Secondary Literature

Album pages with this person

Citation and Licence

Tieck, Ludwig, 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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