In August 1904, Hermann Hesse and his wife Maria Bernouilli, whom he had first met in Basel, come to Gaienhofen on Lake Constance. The newly-wed couple move into a simply appointed farmhouse at Kapellenberg right in the centre of the village. The years on Lake Constance are inextricably linked with Hesse's first major successes as a novelist and writer. Peter Camenzind (1904) draws paeans from the critics, while Unterm Rad (1906) proves to be a big seller. Hesse adapts to the seclusion and naturalness of rural life, develops a "sense of being settled," and is highly prolific as a writer. A number of stories are written while he is living on Lake Constance, and he also makes a name for himself as a literary critic and contributor to a number of literary periodicals. And Hesse also becomes a father. In 1905, his first son, Bruno, is born, and he is followed, in 1909 and 1911, by sons Heiner and Martin. To find the extra space needed for the family, the couple build - with the help of the father-in-law from Basel - a more comfortable house of their own on the outskirts of Gaienhofen. Socially, too, Hesse begins to establish himself. He maintains regular contacts to countless artists, musicians and painters who have followed him to the idyllic region around Lake Constance, among them Otto Blümel, who designs many books by Hesse. And Ludwig Finckh, his friend from Tübingen, sets up us a physician in the immediate vicinity. Among those to have come later were expressionist painters Erich Herkel and Otto Dix. Yet Gaienhofen is unable to become a permanent home. Hesse undertakes journeys that he himself describes as little "escapes." In 1911, he travels to India. A year later, the house in Gaienhofen is sold. The family moves to Berne in Switzerland.


Michels about Gaienhofen (Adobe PDF, 160 kb)  |  Hesse to Stefan Zweig