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Annette Von Droste-Hülshoff Biography | Poet

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DROSTE-HÜLSHOFF, ANNETTE ELISABETH, Freiin von (1797-1848), German poet, was born at the family seat of Hülshoff near Münster in Westphalia on the 10th of January 1797. Her early mental training was largely influenced by her cousin, Clemens August, Freiherr von Droste zu Vischering, who, as archbishop of Cologne, became notorious for his extreme ultramontane views (see below); and she received a more liberal education than in those days ordinarily fell to a woman’s lot. After prolonged visits among the intellectual circles at Coblenz, Bonn and Cologne, she retired to the estate of Ruschhaus near Münster, belonging to her mother’s family. In 1841, owing to delicate health, she went to reside in the house of her brother-in-law, the well-known scholar, Joseph, Freiherr von Lassberg (1770-1855), at Schloss Meersburg on the Lake of Constance, where she met Levin Schücking (q.v.); and there she died on the 24th of May 1848. Annette von Droste-Hülshoff is, beyond doubt, the most gifted and original of German women poets. Her verse is strong and vigorous, but often unmusical even to harshness; one looks in vain for a touch of sentimentality or melting sweetness in it. As a lyric poet, she is at her best when she is able to attune her thoughts to the sober landscape of the Westphalian moorlands of her home. Her narrative poetry, and especially Das Hospiz auf dem Grossen St Bernard and Die Schlacht im Loener Bruch (both 1838), belongs to the best German poetry of its kind. She was a strict Roman Catholic, and her religious poems, published in 1852, after her death, under the title Das geistliche Jahr, nebst einem Anhang religiöser Gedichte, enjoyed great popularity.

Annette von Droste-Hülshoff’s Gedichte were first published in 1844 during her lifetime, and a number of her poems were translated into English by Thomas Medwin. The most complete edition of her works is that in 4 vols. edited by E. von Droste-Hülshoff (Münster, 1886). The Ausgewählte Gedichte were edited by W. von Scholz (Leipzig, 1901). See Levin Schücking, Annette von Droste-Hülshoff, ein Lebensbild (2nd ed., Hanover, 1871)—her letters to L. Schücking were published at Leipzig in 1893; also H. Hueffer, Annette von Droste-Hülshoff und ihre Werke (Gotha, 1887), and W. Kreiten, Annette von Droste-Hülshoff (2nd ed., Paderborn, 1900).


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