Hermann Hesse was born in Calw, in the German state of Wï¿½ttenberg, on July 2,
1877, the son of the missionary and then publisher Johannes Hesse and his wife
Marie. Hesse's parents expected him to pursue a career in the church, but he attended
the Protestant seminary at Maulbronn in 1891 for only seven months. Hesse
worked in several jobs before publishing his first works in 1899. He achieved
success in 1904 with the publication of his novel, Peter Camenzind. In that year
he married Maria Bernoulli. They produced three children but were divorced in
1923. Hesse married again twice.
Hesse visited India in 1911, and this aroused his interest in Indian religion and
philosophy. The result was the novel Siddhartha (1922), which became one of
Hesse's most popular works. When it was translated into English in 1951, it
became a spiritual guide for the Beat generation in America, and also for the
hippies in the 1960s.
In 1912, Hesse left Germany permanently for Switzerland. He achieved
widespread recognition with the novel Damien (1919), about a man torn between
a tidy bourgeois existence and the call of sensuality. The novels Der Steppenwolf
(1927), and Narcissus and Goldmund (1930) followed. Das Glasperlenspiel (The
Glass Bead Game), which many consider to be Hesse's masterpiece, was
published in Zurich in 1943. Hesse had sent the manuscript to Berlin, but the
Nazis refused to publish it. Nor would the Nazis permit the reprinting of many
other of Hesse's works.
Hesse was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1946, after which he wrote
little for publication. He died in his sleep on August 9, 1962, at the age of