Karoline von Woltmann

Karoline von Woltmann is the eldest daughter of the doctor and later Prussian privy councillor Karl Wilhelm Stosch and his wife Anne Auguste Caroline Stosch, née Hönig. As the girl is seen as very intelligent, her parents strive to secure for her a correspondingly good education. At the centre of her interests is, already early on, literature, an inclination in which she is supported by her parents. Among her numerous siblings, her younger sister Marie (1791–1857) is especially important to her.

At 17, Karoline Stosch marries the around twice as old war advisor and poet Karl Müchler (1763–1857) – the marriage was organized because Karoline’s parents hoped that a husband who was a writer would be beneficial to the literary development of their daughter. Despite their hopes the couple become divorced already in 1804.

Shortly after the divorce Karoline meets the historian, author and diplomat Karl Ludwig (as of 1805: von) Woltmann (1770–1817), who becomes her second husband in 1805. According to testimonies of the time, this is a harmonious marriage, in which the spouses pursue their literary and scientific interests together and develop a remarkable form of literary cooperation. Many stories are works of collaboration by the couple. Karoline also helps in an engaged way with the independent work of her husband’s, who dictates his writings to her during the last years of his illness (1815–1817).

At the time of the Napoleonic Wars, the family’s financial problems begin. Karl Ludwig von Woltmann loses a great part of his earnings due to the changing political situation, and finding a new post as a diplomat (this time in the Prussian service) proves likewise problematic. In the face of the volatile war situation in Prussia, the Woltmanns move to Prague in 1813, where they quickly settle in. While Karl Ludwig writes about the history of Bohemia, Karoline works on the folk sagas of the Bohemians.

It is important to note that growing problems in Karl Ludwig von Woltmann’s health can also be attributed to his worsened financial and professional position. Karoline von Woltmann’s life is strongly marked by her husband’s continual sufferings, and his death in Prague on the 19th of June, 1817, is a turning point in her life (she is already 35 years old). At the time of Karl Ludwig’s death, Karoline von Woltmann adopts a child, Marie, whose upbringing is not entirely unproblematic.

Karoline’s main occupation as a widow is the tireless work of publishing her husband’s “Sämmtliche Werke”, which she accomplishes to a considerable extent. The effort to uphold his memory and legacy is also one of the recurring themes in her correspondence. It is clear from her statements that she is convinced of Karl Ludwig’s great significance for posterity and that she mourns the fact that he remains unrecognized by his contemporaries. That the publishing of his works also serves to liquidate debts is a different matter. Due to this activity, Karoline remains in contact with the publisher Deutsches Museum in Leipzig.

In 1820 one of Woltmann’s important correspondence contacts is established: her exchange of letters with the author Therese Huber (1764–1829). Beginning in 1824, Karoline von Woltmann publishes the short-lived magazine “Der Kranz” in Prague, in collaboration with Wolfgang Adolph Gerle. In 1826 she leaves Prague and moves back to Berlin, where she remains until her death. During this time she undertakes trips to Switzerland and Italy.

Karoline von Woltmann, who also uses the pseudonym Luise Berg, is the author of novels like “Euphrosyne” and “Maria und Walpurgis”, as well as poems, reviews, translations from English and essays: “Ueber Natur, Bestimmung, Tugend und Bildung der Frauen” (1826). She is interested in history and philosophy, and she sometimes engages in historico-philosophical reflections in her letters. She also develops a special interest in the Bohemian folk sagas (cf. “Volkssagen der Böhmen”, 1815, “Neue Volkssagen der Böhmen”, 1821).

(trans. Pedro Kauffmann Amaral)

Agnieszka Sowa


Brigitte Leuschner:
„Einführung. Ein Diskurs über Schreiben und Leben in paralleler Lebenssituation“. In: Dies. (Hrsg.): Der Briefwechsel zwischen Therese Huber (1764–1829) und Karoline von Woltmann (1782–1847). Ein Diskurs über Schreiben und Leben.
Marburg 1999, S. 5–18.

Sabine Schmidt:
„Woltmann, Karoline von“. In: Lexikon deutschsprachiger Epik und Dramatik von Autorinnen (1730–1900). Hrsg. von Gudrun Loster-Schneider und Gaby Pailer.
Tübingen 2006, S. 465–469.

Karl Ludwig von Woltmann:
„Selbstbiographie“. In: Ders.: Sämmtliche Werke. Bd. 1. Hrsg. von seiner Frau.
Leipzig: Deutsches Museum 1818, S. 13–90.