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Karl von Holtei
German novelist, poet, and dramatist; b. at Breslau, 24 January, 1798; d. in that city, 12 February, 1880. He abandoned first agriculture and then law for the stage for which he early exhibited a great fondness. Having married Louise Rogee, an actress playing in Breslau, he became connected with the theatre of that city, but changed this residence for Berlin when his wife obtained an engagement there at the court theatre. After her death (1825) he led the life of a wandering rhapsodist, giving dramatic readings at Paris and various other cities. In 1829 he married a second time, his wife being Julie Holzbecher, an actress. He appeared on the stage in different towns, until he accepted the directorship of the newly established German theatre at Riga in 1837. But the next year, his wife having died, he resumed his wandering life as dramatic reader until he settled down in Graz, residing in the house of one of his daughters, who was married there. Here he remained until 1870, when he returned to his native city, where he enjoyed extraordinary popularity. Failing health induced him to take up his abode in the convent of the Brothers of Mercy, where he died.
Holtei's writings are very numerous and include dramas, lyrics and novels. He introduced the vaudeville into Germany. Of his plays, forty-six in number, the best known are "Der alte Feldherr" (1829), "Lenore" (1829), "Ein Trauerspiel in Berlin" (1838), and "Lorbeerbaum und Bettelstab" (1840). Of his novels, the first to appear was "Die Vagabunden" (1852); among those that followed the best are "Christian Lammfell" (1853) and "Der letzte Komödiant" (1863). Of his lyric poems the most popular are the collection entitled "Schlesische Gedichte" (Berlin, 1830, 20th ed., 1893), written in Silesian dialect. Holtei also wrote an autobiography "Vierzig Jahre" (Berlin and Breslau, 1843-50), with a supplement "Noch ein Jahr in Schlesien" (Breslau, 1864). A complete collection of his dramas was published at Breslau, 1845 (final edition, 6 vols., Breslau, 1867). The novels and stories were collected and published under the title "Erzählungen" (Breslau, 39 vols., 1861-66).
Consult the autobiography; see also KURNICK, K. v. H., ein Lebensbild (Breslau, 1880); LANDAU, Karl von Holteis Romane (Leipzig, 1904); WEHL, Zeit und Menschen (Altona, 1889).
ARTHUR F.J. REMY