Curriculum vitae

Der dreijährige Hermann

Hermann at age 3

© Suhrkamp Verlag, Berlin

1877 Born on July 2, 1877, the son of the Protestant missionary and missionary writer Johannes Hesse (1847-1916) and Marie Hesse (1842-1902), née Gundert, wife of the late Charles Isenberg. The father's family is of Baltic- German, the mother's of Swiss/Swabian extraction. Protestant-pietist upbringing. The father, a missionary by training, becomes assistant to his father-in-law, Hermann Gundert, at the Calwer Verlagsverein after a brief period spent working in India. Hermann Gundert was himself a missionary in India, where he made a name for himself as a linguistic researcher and founder of schools.
1881-1886 Hesse lives with his parents in Basel, where his father teaches at the "Basler Mission." Acquires Swiss citizenship, after previously - as the son of a Baltic subject - having been of Russian nationality.
1886-1890 Family returns to Calw. Hesse attends the Reallyzeum in Calw.
1890-1891 Hesse attends the grammar school in Göppingen to prepare for the Landexamen (1891), which is the entry requirement for non-fee-paying students wishing to study evangelical theology at the "Tübinger Stift." Students are also required to relinquish Swiss citizenship rights, and Hesse - the only member of the family to do so - assumes Württemberg citizenship.

Monastery of Maulbronn

1891-1892 Seminarist at the Protestant monastery seminar Maulbronn, from which he flees after just seven months. Decides to "be a poet or nothing at all."
1892 With Christoph Blumhardt in Bad Boll (for observation of his emotional and mental state); attempted suicide (June); Stetten mental hospital (June to August); admission to Cannstatt Gymnasium (November).
1893 In July, Hesse passes the "Einjährig-Freiwilligen-Examen" (qualifying for study in higher Gymnasium classes). Breaks off an apprenticeship as a bookseller after just three days. Subsequently works as an assistant to his father.
1894-1895 Trainee mechanic at the Perrot tower-clock manufactory in Calw.
1895-1898 Apprenticeship as a bookseller with J.J. Heckenhauer, Tübingen. Assistant bookseller there until 1899. First poems published during this time.
1899 His first book, Romantische Lieder, is published by Pierson, Dresden. Eine Stunde hinter Mitternacht is published by Diederichs, Jena.
1899-1903 Assistant bookseller at the Reich'sche Buchhandlung in Basel. First articles and reviews for the Allgemeine Schweizer Zeitung. Travels through Switzerland.
Hermann Hesse

© Suhrkamp Verlag, Berlin


First trip to Italy (Florence, Genoa, Venice). Bookseller at the Wattenwyl antiquarian bookstore (until 1903).


Hinterlassene Schriften und Gedichte von Hermann Lauscher published by R. Reich, Basel. Second trip to Italy (Florence, Venice).


1902 The slim volume of verse entitled Gedichte appears in Berlin. A short time later, Hesse's mother dies. Unterm Rad written in Calw in September.
1903 After leaving his position in Basel, second trip to Italy, on which he is accompanied by Maria Bernouilli. Engagement announced in May.
1904 Peter Camenzind published by S. Fischer, Berlin. First major breakthrough as a writer. Weds Maria Bernouilli. In July, the couple move into an empty farmhouse in Gaienhofen on Lake Constance. Freelance writer and contributor to numerous papers and periodicals. During his time in Gaienhofen, Hesse lives a simple life in harmony with nature, becomes friends with numerous artists (among them Othmar Schoeck), and also contributes to numerous magazines (including "Simplicissimus").
1905 Birth of first son, Bruno
1906 Unterm Rad published by S. Fischer, Berlin

Hesse's first home

1907 Co-editor (until 1912) of März, the liberal periodical opposing the personal regime of Wilhelm II. Diesseits, stories, published by S. Fischer, Berlin. In Gaienhofen ("Am Erlenloh"), Hesse moves to his own, self-built house.
1909 Birth of second son, Heiner.
1910 The novel "Gertrud" is published in Munich by Albert Langen.
1911 "Unterwegs" (poems) published in Munich by Georg Müller. Birth of third son, Martin. Journey to India with painter friend Hans Sturzenegger, which takes him to Ceylon, Malaysia, Singapore, and Sumatra. He returns sick and disenchanted.

© Suhrkamp Verlag, Berlin

1912 The stories "Umwege" published by S. Fischer, Berlin. Hesse leaves Germany for good, moving to Berne with his family. He takes on the house of his deceased painter friend Albert Welti. Beginning of friendship to Romain Rolland.
1913 The account of his East Indies trip appears: "Aus Indien," S. Fischer, Berlin.
1914 Rosshalde, novel, published by S. Fischer, Berlin. At the beginning of the war, Hesse volunteers to serve but is declared unfit for service and assigned to the German legation in Berne, where he works for the "Deutsche Gefangenenfürsorge," providing hundreds of thousands of prisoners of war in France, England, Russia, and Italy with reading material, editing and publishing POW magazines, and setting up a publishing company specially for prisoners of war.
1914-1919 Political essays and admonitory articles appear in German, Swiss and Austrian magazines.
1915 Knulp. Drei Geschichten aus dem Leben Knulps published by S. Fischer, Berlin. Musik des Einsamen published by Eugen Salzer, Heilbronn.
1916 Death of father, his wife's first signs of schizophrenia, and the serious illness of his youngest son, Martin, trigger a nervous breakdown. First psychotherapy sessions with J. B. Lang, a member of the staff of C. G. Jung, during a health cure in Sonnmatt near Lucerne.

© Silver Hesse


1919 Leaves wife and children, who are sent to live with friends. Gives up home in Berne and goes to live in Casa Camuzzi in Montagnola/Tessin, where he resides until 1931. Demian. Die Geschichte einer Jugend is published under the pseudonym Emil Sinclair by S. Fischer Verlag, Berlin. Hesse discovers painting. Founder and editor (together with Richard Woltereck) of the periodical Vivos Voco (until 1922).
1920 Gedichte des Malers, ten poems with coloured drawings, published by Verlag Seldwyla, Berne. The story Klingsors letzter Sommer published by S. Fischer-Verlag, Berlin
1921 Crisis leading to almost eighteenth months of unproductiveness between the writing of the first and second part of Siddhartha. Psychoanalysis with C. G. Jung.
1922 Siddhartha. Eine indische Dichtung published by S. Fischer-Verlag, Berlin.

Hermann and Ruth Hesse

© Suhrkamp Verlag, Berlin


1923 Sinclairs Notizbuch published by Rascher, Zurich. First health cure in Baden near Zurich, to which Hesse subsequently returns at the end of each year until 1951.
1924 Hesse acquires Swiss citizenship. Marries his second wife, Ruth Wenger.
1925 Kurgast published by S. Fischer-Verlag, Berlin. During the winter months of the subsequent years (until 1931), Hesse lives in Zurich.
1926 Hesse is elected a foreign member of the "Sektion für Dichtkunst der Preußischen Akademie der Künste," a position he resigns from in 1931. Bilderbuch published by S. Fischer-Verlag, Berlin.
Hermann Hesse um 1927

Hermann Hesse circa 1927

© Suhrkamp Verlag, Berlin

1927 Die Nürnberger Reise and Der Steppenwolf published by S. Fischer-Verlag, Berlin. To mark Hesse's 50th birthday, a biography by Hugo Ball also appears. Marriage annulled after divorce petition from wife Ruth.
1930 The story Narziss und Goldmund is published by S. Fischer-Verlag, Berlin.
1931 Marries art historian Ninon Dolbin, née Ausländer. The couple move into "Casa Hesse," the house in Montagnola built for them as a place to live for the rest of their life by Hesse's friend and patron, H. C. Bodmer.
1932 Die Morgenlandschaft published by S. Fischer-Verlag, Berlin.
1932-1943 Works on Das Glasperlenspiel.
1935 Politically enforced division of S. Fischer-Verlag.
1936 Stunden im Garten, an idyll, published by Verlag Gottfried Bermann Fischer, Vienna. Gottfried Keller Prize. First meeting with Peter Suhrkamp, who heads the division of S. Fischer Verlag remaining in Germany.
1939-1945 Hesse's works unwelcome inside Germany. New editions of a variety of works not allowed to appear, and the Propaganda Ministry bans the publication of Das Glasperlenspiel in 1942.
1943 Das Glasperlenspiel published by Fretz und Wasmuth, Zurich. Hesse's publisher Peter Suhrkamp arrested by the Gestapo.
1944 Suhrkamp arrested by the Gestapo.
1945 "Berthold" and "Traumfährte" published by Fretz und Wasmuth, Zurich.
1946 "Krieg und Frieden" published by Fretz und Wasmuth, Zurich. Hesse's works allowed to appear in Germany once again, initially published by "Suhrkamp Verlag vorm. S. Fischer," and then by the newly founded Suhrkamp Verlag, Frankfurt am Main. Goethe Prize of the City of Frankfurt. Nobel Prize.
1947 Honorary doctorate from the University of Berne.
Hermann Hesse 1954

Hermann Hesse in 1954

© Suhrkamp Verlag, Berlin


1950 Wilhelm Raabe Prize. Hesse encourages and helps Peter Suhrkamp to set up a publishing company of his own.
1952 Gesammelte Dichtungen in six volumes appear in a special commemorative edition to mark Hesse's 75th birthday published by Suhrkamp Verlag, Frankfurt/M.
1955 Peace Prize of the German Book Trade.
1961 Stufen, Alte und Neue Gedichte in Auswahl, published by Suhrkamp Verlag, Frankfurt/M.
1962 On August 9, Hermann Hesse dies in Montagnola.