Fanny Lewald was born Fanny Marcus to a German-Jewish family in East Prussia and converted to Christianity at age 17. She travelled in Germany, France and Italy for several years, settling in 1845 in Berlin. In 1854/55, she married Adolf Stahr, an author. She was a prolific writer for more than 40 years, producing novels, novellas, travel literature and essays. She was the first known German woman to champion women's right to economic independence through work, but she stopped short of advocating female suffrage. After her husband's death, she moved to Dresden. Among the most popular of her novels were Klementine (1842); Prinz Louis Ferdinand (1849); Das Madchen von Hela (1860); Von Geschlecht zu Geschlecht (1863–1865); Benvenuto (1875), and Stella (1883). She also published an autobiography in 6 volumes, Meine Lebensgeschichte (1861–1862).