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Karoline von Günderrode was born in Karlsruhe, Germany, the oldest of six siblings in an impoverished aristocratic family. In 1797, she went to live in a residence in Frankfurt for poor unmarried noblewomen such as herself. She struggled against the prescribed roles for women of that era. She studied literature, philosophy, Far Eastern and Norse mythology, chemistry, geography, the history of religion, physiognomy, Latin, and prosody. She wrote plays, such as Hildegund und Nikator and Mora, in which strong, heroic women played a central role. She also wrote poetry and many letters, which during the Romantic period were a literary genre of their own. In 1804, she began a relationship with Georg Friedrich Creuzer, a philologist and archeologist. Creuzer, who was married, asked his wife for a divorce, but suffered depression and anxiety from the public scandal that ensued. He became ill, and Karoline believed that he was not going to survive. She decided that she wanted to die with him, so she committed suicide with a dagger walking on the banks of the Rhine at Winkel, at age 26. Her lover recovered from his illness. Karoline von Günderrode’s works have recently begun to attract interest among researchers and scholars. Her writings are now considered important in feminist and gender studies as well as for their literary value. Christa Wolf's 1979 novel, Nirgends (No Place on Earth), features Karoline von Günderrode and her friends Bettina von Arnim and Clemens Brentano.
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