Heinrich von Kleist (1777 - 1811)
Bernd Heinrich Wilhelm von Kleist (18 October 1777 – 21 November 1811) was a German poet, dramatist, novelist and short story writer. The Kleist Prize, a prestigious prize for German literature, is named after him. Kleist was born into the von Kleist family in Frankfurt an der Oder in the Margraviate of Brandenburg. After a scanty education, he entered the Prussian Army in 1792, served in the Rhine campaign of 1796, and retired from the service in 1799 with the rank of lieutenant. He studied law and philosophy at the Viadrina University and in 1800 received a subordinate post in the Ministry of Finance at Berlin. In the following year, Kleist's roving, restless spirit got the better of him, and procuring a lengthened leave of absence he visited Paris and then settled in Switzerland. Here he found congenial friends in Heinrich Zschokke and Ludwig Friedrich August Wieland (d. 1819), son of the poet Christoph Martin Wieland; and to them he read his first drama, a gloomy tragedy, The Schroffenstein Family (1803, originally entitled The Ghonorez Family).
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