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Bülow, Frieda von (1857–1909)

Bülow, Frieda von (1857–1909)

German author, who was the creator of the German colonial novel. Name variations: Buelow, Bulow; Baroness von Bülow. Born Frieda Freifräulein von Bülow in Berlin, Germany, on October 12, 1857; died in Dornburg on March 12, 1909; daughter of Hugo Freiherr von Bülow (a diplomat); sister of Margarete von Bülow (1860–1884) and Albrecht von Bülow.

Selected writings:

Allein ich will! Roman (3rd ed., Dresden-Blasewitz: C. Reissner Verlag, 1911); Im Lande der Verheissung: Ein deutscher Kolonial-Roman (Berlin: F. Fontane, 1899); Im Lande der Verheissung: Ein Kolonialroman um Carl Peter (Dresden: Reissner Verlag, 1937); Reiseskizzen und Tagebuchblätter aus Deutsch-Ostafrika (Berlin: Walther & Apolant Verlag, 1889); Tropenkoller: Episode aus dem deutschen Kolonialleben (2nd ed., Berlin: F. Fontane, 1897).

Older sister of novelist Margarete von Bülow , Frieda von Bülow was born in Berlin on October 12, 1857. Her father Hugo von Bülow was a diplomat, and thus Frieda spent much of her youth in Smyrna, Turkey, as well as in England. When she returned to Germany, most of her time was spent in the province of Thuringia, as well as her native city of Berlin. In 1885, she accompanied her brother Albrecht to German East Africa, where he purchased land and attempted to create a successful career for himself as a plantation owner. During this time, Frieda von Bülow became a strong proponent of a German presence in Africa, at least in part because she had met and come under the influence of a ruthless colonial adventurer, Carl Peters (1856–1918). Returning to Europe in 1889, she was shocked in 1892 by the news of her brother's death in Africa and returned to his property the next year in an attempt to make the land a profitable undertaking.

Most of von Bülow's energy from the early 1890s to her death in 1909 went into convincing the German people that their national destiny included an ambitious agenda of colonial expansionism. Believing that German women should make their presence felt in the newly acquired German colonies, she founded and was tireless in propagandizing for the German Women's Guild for Nursing in the Colonies. Von Bülow was convinced that Germans were racially superior to Africans and thus fated to rule and "enlighten" them, and several of her novels dealt with the issue of racial roles in Africa. With her 1899 work Im Lande der Verheissung, she created the German colonial novel, which was not surprisingly populated with racist stereotypes, including the mulatto female Maria Beta, described as a "barbarian" whose "dark eyes glistened covetously." In contrast, the character of German baroness Maleen von Dietlas, whose "still healthy Nordic blood circulated in her veins," deserved to win the affections of the count, whose bloodline must remain pure. Frieda von Bülow died in Dornburg on March 12, 1909. The loss of Germany's colonial empire in World War I effectively ended public interest in her writings, and even Nazi Germany's attempt to stir up public interest in a return of the lost colonies failed to restore her reputation either as a writer or propagandist.


Hoechstetter, Sophie. Frieda Freiin von Bülow: Ein Lebensbild. Dresden: C. Reissner Verlag, 1910.

Müller, Fritz Ferdinand. Deutschland-Zanzibar-Ostafrika: Geschichte einer deutschen Kolonialeroberung 1884–1890. Berlin: 1959.

Warmbold, Joachim. "If only she didn't have Negro blood in her veins: The concept of Métissage in German colonial literature," in Journal of Black Studies. Vol. 23, no. 2. December 1992, pp. 200–209.

John Haag , Associate Professor, University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia

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