Varnhagen von Ense, Rahel

WRITER (GERMANY)
BORN 19 May 1771, Berlin - DIED 7 Mar 1833, Berlin
REAL NAME Levin, Rahel Antonie Friederike
GRAVE LOCATION Berlin: Dreifaltigkeitskirchhof I, Mehringdamm 21 (Halleschen Tor), Kreuzberg (7-2-38/39 47 (DV2-2-38/39), Ehrengrab (Feld 2))

Rahel Varnhagen played an important part in the spiritual life of the German Romantic circles in Berlin. She was the daughter of the Jewish merchant Markus Levin and lived in Berlin, Paris, Frankfurt am Main, Hamburg and Prague. When she was living in Berlin with her parents she organised a salon that was visited by the Schlegel and the Humboldt brothers. After she met Goethe in Karlsbad in 1795 he praised her 'exceptional mind'. In 1796 she started an unhappy affair with Karl Graf von Finckenstein that ended in 1800. In 1802 she became engaged with the Spanish diplomat Don Raphael d'Urquijo but this ended in 1804.

After the death of her friend Alexander von der Marwitz during the battles against Napoleon she became a Christian on 23 Sep 1814 and four days later she married Alexander von Humboldt's young friend Karl August Varnhagen von Ense, whom she had first met in 1803. She was among the most literary women of Europe and her second salon attracted people like Schlegel, Schleiermacher and Heine. In 1815 she travelled to Frankfurt to meet Goethe again and she was visited by Mendelssohn-Bartholdy. Rahel corresponded intensely with many great minds.

After her death husband published a collection of her letters and diary entries in "Rahel: Ein Buch des Andenken". He collected thousands of letters from and to her. They were edited by his niece Ludmilla Assing (1821-1880) who published several further books and left the collection to the Royal Library in Berlin. During the Second World War her manuscripts were evacuated from Berlin and now they are in Krakau.

Family
• Husband: Varnhagen von Ense, Karl-August

Related persons
• knew Goethe, Johann Wolfgang von
• was visited by Heine, Heinrich
• was visited by Mendelssohn, Dorothea
• was visited by Mendelssohn-Bartholdy, Felix

Sources
Grosse Frauen der Weltgeschichte, Neuer Kaiser Verlag, Klagenfurt, 1987
literarisch-historischer Salon
Wikipedia (German)

Images

The grave of Rahel Varnhagen von Ense at the Dreifaltigkeitskirchhof I, Bergmanstrasse, Berlin.
Picture by Androom (15 Jul 2005)

 


Vasalis, Maria

Published: 1 Jan 2006
Last update: 11 Dec 2009