Lessing, Gotthold Ephraïm

BORN 22 Jan 1729, Kamenz, Opper-Lausitz - DIED 15 Feb 1781, Braunschweig, Niedersachsen
CAUSE OF DEATH asthmatic attack
GRAVE LOCATION Braunschweig, Niedersachsen: Magni Friedhof, Gerstäckerstrasse (II 1)

Gotthold Ephraïm Lessing was educated at the Royal School in Meissen (1741-1746) and studied theology, medicin and philosophy in Leipzig (1746-1748). He translated French plays for Friederike Caroline Neuber and in 1748 her group performed a play of his own, "Der Junge Gelehrte".

In November 1748 he moved to Berlin, where he met Voltaire in 1750 and worked for the Berlinischen Pivilegierten Zeitung. He made himself a name as a critic and he did translation work for Voltaire, but it seems their friendship soon ended.

In 1755 his "Miß Sara Sampson" was a big success and in the same year he returned to Leipzig. After a period of financial difficulties he once move moved to Berlin in 1758. From 1760 until 1765 he was secretary to B.F. von Tauentzien, the Prussian commander in Breslau.

In 1767 his "Minna von Barnhelm" became the first comedy to show contemporary German life. After another period in Berlin he went to Hamburg to work for the new Deutsche Nationaltheater. In 1770 he became librarian at Wolfenbüttel, where a unique collection of old manuscripts was held.

In 1776 his finances were finally sufficient to marry Eva König, to whom he had been engaged since 1771. But she died after giving birth to a son, the child dying as well. In Wolfenbüttel he wrote his famous play "Nathan der Weise" (1779, first performed 4 Apr 1783 in Berlin). In 1781 he suddenly died during a trip to Braunschweig.

Related persons
• visited Gellert, Christian Fürchtegott
• was sculpted by Kaupert, Gustav
• cooperated with Neuber, Friederike Caroline
• was written about by Stahr, Adolf
• met Voltaire


The grave of Gotthold Ephraïm Lessing at the Magni Friedhof, Braunschweig.
Picture by Androom (23 Mar 2007)


The grave of Gotthold Ephraïm Lessing at the Magni Friedhof, Braunschweig.
Picture by Androom (23 Mar 2007)


The statue of Gotthold Ephraïm Lessing by Georg Ferdinand Howaldt in Braunschweig.
Picture by Androom (23 Mar 2007)


The house in front of the library in Wolfenbüttel where G.E. Lessing lived.
Picture by Androom (25 Mar 2007)


Statue of G.E. Lessing at the Tiergarten, Berlin.
Picture by Androom (26 Aug 2013)


Statue of Lessing at the Judenplatz in Vienna.
Picture by Androom (10 Aug 2018)


• Aubert, Joachim, Handbuch der Grabstätten berühmten Deutscher, Österreicher und Schweizer, Deutscher Kunstverlag, München, 1973
Winkler Prins Encyclopedie (editie 1909), 1909
Gotthold Lessing (1729-1781)

Lessore, Therèse

Published: 01 Apr 2007
Last update: 29 Mar 2022