Fontane, Theodor

BORN 30 Dec 1819, Neu Ruppin, Brandenburg - DIED 20 Sep 1898, Berlin
GRAVE LOCATION Berlin: Französischer Friedhof II, Liessenstrasse 7, Mitte (Feld B-35/36 - 16/17)

Theodor Fontane came from a family of Huguenots. His father was the apothecary Louis Henry Fontane (1796-1867) and his grandfather Pierre Barthélemy Fontane (1757-1826) was a painter and a music teacher.

From 1836 to 1840 he was an apprentice to an apothecary in Berlin. In 1835 he first met his future wife Emilie Rouanet-Kummer. In 1840 he became assistant apothecary in Burg near Magdeburg. Around this time he wrote his first poems. In 1844 he served for a year in the army. In 1845 he worked at the pharmacy of Dr. Schacht in Berlin and he became engaged to Emilie. In 1847 he was licensed as a first-class pharmacist. In 1848 he participated in the revolution and wrote radical texts.

In 1849 he decided to become a full time freelance author and in that year his book "Männer und Helden. Acht Preußenlieder" was published. He married Emilie in 1850 and in 1851 their first son George was born. Their financial position improved after he obtained a job at the Centralstelle für Preßangelegenheiten. He lived in London for his work from 1855 to 1859. He was the first to write about the preraphaelite artists for the German public.

After his return to Germany he concentrated on travel literature. In 1870 he became theatre critic for the Vossische Zeitung. When he visited Paris to witness the Franco-Prussian War in 1870 he was arrested on suspicion of being a spy for Germany. He was released after an invention by Bismarck. Between 1874 and 1876 he travelled with Emilie to Austria, Italy and Switzerland.

After these journeys he stopped writing for newspapers and he became an independent author. In 1892 he suffered from brain ischemia and was advised by his doctor to describe his childhood memories as a distraction. This worked an he recovered enough to write his best known novel "Effi Briest" (1895). He died in 1898 in Berlin.

Related persons
• was inspired by Ardenne, Elisabeth, Baronin von
• was helped by Heyse, Paul
• knew Löwenstein, Rudolf
• was photographed by Schaarwächter, Julius


The grave of Theodor Fontane at the Französischer Friedhof II, Berlin.
Picture by Androom (29 Aug 2008)


Baedeker Berlin, Baedeker Verlag, Stuttgart, 1994
• Hammer, Klaus, Historische Friedhöfe & Grabmäler in Berlin, Stattbuch Verlag, Berlin, 1994
Süddeutsche Zeitung
Theodor Fontane – Wikipedia

Fontanesi, Antonio

Published: 01 Dec 2018
Last update: 15 Feb 2022