Luise Gottsched

Biography of Eighteenth Century German female playwright, and leading figure of the enlightenment, Luise Gottsched, by Hedda House.

I recently posted a MicroBiog on Instagram about the early eighteenth century German female playwright, Luise Gottsched and my simultaneous admiration for her body of work and seething fury at her husband and, well, all men in the last 250 years.

The crux of my rage was, oh okay still is, the fact that nearly everywhere I looked for information led to biographies or sites dedicated to her husband. It seems that regardless of her own achievements she was still widely seen as merely an addendum to her man. Although, it turns out, I wasn’t the only person to notice this. As early as 1908 Hermann Schoenfeld (I ? you) wrote in ‘Women of the Teutonic Nations’:

Luise Gottsched was one of the brightest women of the 18th Century. She wrote exceedingly well. But after her husband began his Dictionary of the German Language & Model Grammar she dropped all her own literary work to assist him. As usual, fame has been unjust: the husband received all the credit, while the wife did all, or nearly all, of the work. Morning, noon, and night for thirty years she toiled at this verbal drudgery; and when she was sick, worn out at age forty-seven, her husband whined, publicly, because she did not always “answer pleasantly” when he called her from her invalid’s couch to copy his interminable manuscripts. She died at the age of fifty-nine.

*insert Mutley from ‘The Wacky Races’ style muttering* I couldn’t possibly say it any better so let’s crack on and plAy our part in bringing her out of the (male-cast) shadows.

? A leading intellectual, Gottsched was a poet, essayist and translator as well as a playwright.

? Thought to be the mother of modern German comedy.

? Her poet and author husband, Johann Christoph Gottsched, was domineering, rigidly insisting her plays follow the French model utilising “satiric invention for a didactic purpose”. ?

? Luise met Gottsched when she sent him her work. After a Long correspondence, they married. She did continue working after marriage, helping him in his work.

? Gottsched wrote several popular comedies, including ‘The Testament’.

? Her best known play is ‘Die Pietisterey im Fischbein-Rocke’ (‘Piety in a Hoop Skirt’) of 1736. It got banned in several cities.

? She translated, among other English and French writings, nine volumes of ‘The Spectator’ between 1739 and 1743 and Alexander Pope’s ‘Rape of the Lock’ in 1744. Her work as a translator spanned drama and poetry to philosophy, history, archaeology, even theoretical physics and totalled 50 volumes!

? 1994 saw the first English translation of Gottsched’s five original comedies ‘Pietism in Petticoats and Other Comedies’ by Thomas Kerth & John R. Russell. It’s currently priced at £60, so not at all pricing her out of regular reach.

Yep, that’s pretty much so I’ve got that doesn’t revolve around the husband and his work.

HER FULL STATS: Born Luise Adelgunde Victorie Gottsched Kulmus, 11th April, 1713 in Danzig (now Danzig (Gdańsk) in what was then the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth.
Died 26th June, 1762 in Leipzig.

? Elias Gottlob Haussmann

Further Resources:

Excerpt from Hermann Schoenfeld’s ‘Women of the Teutonic Nations’
And if you have an account you can read Susanne Kord’s article here


Das Testament (in German)

Flash Card

Want to shout about Luise from the rooftops? If by rooftops, you mean Pinterest, then great news! Here’s a graphic for you to do just that ?

Biography of 18th Century enlightenment German female playwright Luise Gottsched by Hedda House.
Biography of 18th Century enlightenment German female playwright Luise Gottsched by Hedda House.

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