Wilhelm Hauff was a German poet and novelist. He was born in 1802 in Stuttgart. He died at the age of twenty-five, and the period of his literary work was comprised within his last two years. This short time however sufficed to express his extraordinary genius.
Hauff was the son of August Friedrich Hauff, Government Secretary of Foreign Affairs. His father died when he was but seven years of age, and the education of the children devolved upon the mother, a woman of great intelligence, whose influence over her sensitive son was the result of a perfect understanding of his emotional nature. Hauff’s powers of work were enormous, and he produced his stories in rapid succession. Das Bild des Kaisers (The Portrait of the Emperor), a poetic piece of romance, and Die Bettlerin vom Pont des Arts (The Beggar of the Pont des Arts), are masterpieces of their kind. Among the best of his productions must be ranked Phantasien im Bremer Rathskeller (Phantasies in the Bremen Rathskeller). It is however most especially in the series of tales The Caravan, The Sheik of Alexandria, and The Inn in Spessart, that Hauff’s high originality is best exemplified. He is pre-eminently a storyteller, and his pure and lucid style is the transparent medium for the expression of strikingly bold dramatic ideas. His wit is singularly delicate, yet penetrating, and he exercises a fascination over persons of all ages and conditions. The popularity which he at once attained is still unabated. His collected works continue to be issued in numerous editions, and his place in German literature seems now as assured as it has always been in the hearts of his countrymen.