Siegbert Salomon Prawer was born to a Jewish family and Germany and fled the Nazis for Britain in 1939. He became Taylor Professor of German Language and Literature at the University of Oxford in 1969. Previously, he was Lecturer at the University of Birmingham from 1948 to 1963, and Professor of German at Westfield College London from 1964 to 1969. He was an Honorary Fellow of Queen's College, Oxford and of Jesus College, Cambridge.
His specialties were the fields of German poetry and lieder, comparative literature, and film.