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Author photo. From "The Love Affairs of Great Musicians," Rupert Hughes (1903)
<BR>Project Gutenberg

From "The Love Affairs of Great Musicians," Rupert Hughes (1903)
Project Gutenberg

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Elisabeth Catharina Ludovica Magdalena Brentano, known as Bettina, was born at Frankfurt am Main into the large family of an Italian merchant that became one of the most important in German cultural life. Her maternal grandmother, Sophie von La Roche, was a famous novelist, and her brother Clemens Brentano grew up to be a poet. After being educated at a convent school, Bettina lived for a while with her grandmother at Offenbach am Main and then with her brother-in-law Friedrich von Savigny, a famous jurist, at Marburg. She formed a close friendship with poet Karoline von Günderrode and got to know Goethe, Beethoven, Rahel Varnhagen, and Robert Schumann, among others. In 1811, Bettina married Achim von Arnim, a renowned Romantic poet and aristocrat. The couple lived in Berlin and at a family estate at Weipersdorf, and had seven children. She collected folk songs, and composed original songs of her own; she also illustrated and published books. She collaborated with her daughters on various fairy tales, most notably the novel Das Leben der Hochgräfin Gritta von Rattenzuhausbeiuns (The Life of the Countess Gritta von Ratsinourhouse, 1826). Her three best-known works were epistolary novels based on her correspondence with Goethe, Goethes Briefwechsel mit einem Kinde (Goethe’s Correspondence with a Child, 1835), with Karoline von Günderode (Die Günderode, 1840), and with her brother Clemens, Clemens Brentanos Frühlingskranz (Clemens Brentano’s Spring Garland, 1844). These books are a peculiar blend of reality and fiction, written in a vivid, uninhibited style. Bettina von Arnim also championed the poor and underprivileged, and was an advocate for the oppressed Jewish minority in Germany. Her daughter Gisela von Arnim became a prominent writer as well.
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