Christoph Martin Wieland

Christoph Martin Wieland (1733-1813) was the most famous and best-paid German author of his age for quite a long time. Wieland’s works were translated into 13 languages in his lifetime. He was an important protagonist of the Enlightenment and he also paved the way for German Classicism in literature. Wieland was also an important translator: He translated 22 plays of Shakespeare into German. That was the beginning of the popularisation of Shakespeare’s work in the German-speaking countries.

Wieland was born and raised near Biberach – a small town in central southern Germany. Already at an early age he was fluent in German diction and foreign languages. He went to a well-respected convent school nearby Magdeburg. At the age of 15, he began studying philosophy in Erfurt and later studied law at the University of Tübingen. But he did not finish his academic studies, but instead started writing. In 1750 he went to Switzerland where he stayed for 10 years and lived as a writer. Wieland returned to Biberach in 1760 and worked in an important position at the city council. During these years in Biberach he wrote the first German educational novel Die Geschichte des Agathon (The history of Agathon) and a number of significant works that brought him international renown.

In 1769 Wieland became professor of philosophy in Erfurt. In 1772 he went to Weimar where he educated Prince Karl August, son of the Duchess Anna Amalia. During this time Wieland published a journal that not only had the largest numbers of issues but also lasted longer than any other journal in Germany in the 18th century. Among other things, Wieland’s reputation was a factor in helping attract the other most famous writers of the »Weimar Classicism« Goethe, Schiller and Herder to Weimar as well. Wieland died aged 79 in Weimar-Oßmannstedt 20. of January 1813.  

Christoph Martin Wieland, Oil painting
Georg Oswald May, 1779 Wieland Archive

Wieland-Archiv Biberach,
Christoph Martin
Wieland-Stiftung Biberach
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Waldseer Straße 31
88400 Biberach
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88400 Biberach an der Riß

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