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Dorothea Schlegel (1764–1839)

Author of Florentin (Fiction, Poetry & Drama)

Includes the names: Dorothea von Schlegel, Dorothea Mendelssohn Veit Schlegel

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Dorothea Schlegel or von Schlegel was born Brendel Mendelssohn in Berlin, Germany. She was one of six children of Moses Mendelssohn, a German Jewish philosopher and leading figure in the Enlightenment. Her childhood friends included Henriette Herz, Rahel Varnhagen von Ense, and Fanny von Arnstein, who shared her passion for avant-garde German literature. They were among the first generation of emancipated Jews to assimilate into German society. In 1783, when she was 14, she made an arranged marriage to Simon Veit, an influential banker, with whom she had four sons. She became active in Berlin’s salons and joined with Wilhelm and Alexander von Humboldt in forming a secret society called the Tugendbund. She began calling herself Dorothea. In 1797, she met and fell in love with Friedrich von Schlegel, a poet and literary critic, and left her husband. She moved with von Schlegel and her son Philipp to Jena, where she presided over a lively salon. In 1799, she published her only novel, Florentin, anonymously. The couple lived in Paris from 1802 until 1804, and after a divorce from her first husband, she became a Protestant and married von Schlegel. She translated Madame de Staël's novel Corinne from French into German, as well as several nonfiction works. In 1808, she and her husband converted to the Roman Catholic faith.
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