Hauptmann: Autobiographical Statement

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Hauptmann: Autobiographical Statement

(Written at the time of the awarding of the Nobel Prize)

I was born on November 15, 1862. The place of my birth is Bad Obersalzbrunn, a spa famous for its medicinal springs. The house of my birth is the inn “Zur Preussischen Krone.” My father was Robert Hauptmann, my mother Marie Hauptmann, neà Straehler. I am the youngest of four children. I remember growing up in an educated and lively middle-class house.

I attended the village school, learned some Latin from a tutor, and had violin lessons. Later I went to Breslau, the capital of our province, where I lived in boardinghouses and attended a Gymnasium. Fortunately, my Breslau school period did not crush me, but it left scars from which I only slowly recovered.

I should have perished if there had not been a way out. I went to the country and began to study agriculture. The tortures of school, begun in 1874, ended in 1878. But agriculture remained an episode. Once in solitude I dreamed to stand on my own feet and have my own thoughts. I grew conscious of myself, my value, and my rights. In this way I gained independence, firmness, and a freedom of intellect that I still enjoy today.

Hungry for culture, I resumed to Breslau where I spent a second, happier period. I attended the art academy, did sculpturing, learned what youth, hope, and beauty are, the value of friends, masters, and teachers.

I drew, sculptured, drank, wrote poems, made plans, and built castles in Spain. In this mood I exchanged the art academy of Breslau for the University of Jena in Thuringia. In this mood I exchanged Jena for Rome, and later Rome for Berlin.

Although I still worked as a sculptor in Rome, it was here that I finally decided upon literature. A play Vor Sonnenaufgang [Before Dawn] made me publicly known in 1889.

My later works I wrote partly in Berlin, partly in Schreiberhau in the Riesengebirge, partly in Agnetendorf, partly in Italy: they are the condensation of outward and inward fortunes.

[© The Nobel Foundation, 1912. Gerhart Hauptmann is the sole author of the text.]