Bettina Von Arnim

Bettina Von Arnim

German writer
Date of Birth: 04.04.1785
Country: Germany

Biography of Bettina von Arnim

Bettina von Arnim was a German writer and one of the main representatives of Romanticism. She was born as the seventh child of twelve to Peter Anton Brentano, a prominent merchant, and his wife Maximiliane von La Roche. Her mother passed away in 1793.

Bettina was raised in a convent in Fritzlar until the age of 13. After her father's death in 1797, she lived with her grandmother Sophie von La Roche in Offenbach and later in Frankfurt. Her sister Künigunde Brentano married Friedrich Carl von Savigny and lived in Marburg, where Bettina also resided for some time.

In 1810, following the Savigny family, she moved to Berlin. In 1811, Bettina married Achim von Arnim, whom she knew from Frankfurt as a friend of her brother Clemens Brentano. Their marriage lasted twenty years until Achim's sudden death in 1831. However, they primarily lived separately, with Bettina residing in Berlin and Achim preferring Wipersdorf Castle.

During their marriage, Bettina and Achim had seven children. After her husband's death, Bettina dedicated herself to publishing his works and became involved in social and literary activities. During the cholera epidemic in Berlin, she cared for the sick in the impoverished neighborhoods. She wrote a critical work called "This Book Belongs to the King" in 1843, which portrayed fictional conversations between the Virgin Mary and the mother of the Prussian king. The book was banned in Bavaria.

Inspired by the 1848 revolution, Bettina von Arnim wrote "Conversations with Demons" in 1852, in which she called for the abolition of the death penalty and the recognition of women's and Jews' rights. Her views aligned closely with early socialists. In 1842, she met Karl Marx but continued to adhere to her idea of a people's king, believing that any citizen could become one.

In 1854, Bettina von Arnim suffered a stroke, which left her paralyzed and caused loss of sight and hearing. On January 20, 1859, she passed away surrounded by her family and was buried next to her husband in Wipersdorf Palace. In 1985, the Bettina von Arnim Society was established in Berlin to commemorate the 200th anniversary of her birth and promote her works.

Bettina von Arnim maintained connections with many famous individuals of her time. She developed a lasting friendship with Goethe's mother, Catharina Elisabeth Goethe, in 1806. Although the poet did not respond to Bettina's enthusiastic letters initially, they eventually met in Weimar, and a correspondence ensued. After Goethe's death, Bettina published their letters under the title "Correspondence of Goethe with a Child."

However, their friendship ended in 1811 after a scandal erupted between Bettina and Goethe's wife, Christiane. At an art exhibition featuring works by Goethe's friend Johann Heinrich Meyer, Bettina made derogatory remarks about the artist's creations. In response, Christiane snatched Bettina's glasses, and Bettina referred to Christiane as a "mad sausage." From that moment, Goethe's home was closed to Bettina and her husband. When they met again a year later in Bad Teplitz, Goethe pretended not to notice them. Despite Bettina's numerous letters to Goethe begging for a renewed relationship, there was no response.