He was born at Heide, in Ditmarsh, the western part of the Duchy of Holstein. After studying at the normal school in Tondern (1838–1841), he became a teacher at the girls school in his native village, devoting his spare time to the study of philosophy, mathematics, and the natural sciences. But in 1847, he went to Kiel to qualify for a higher educational post. Ill health interrupted his studies, and he retired to the island of Fehmarn, in the Baltic Sea, where he remained five years, and where most of his poems were written.
It was not until 1853 that he was able to resume his studies at Kiel. In 1856 he took the degree of Doctor of Philosophy at Bonn, and then traveled through Germany and Switzerland for two years. In 1858, he settled as Privatdozent in German literature and languages at Kiel, where, in 1866, he was made professor, and where he lived until his death.
In his Low Saxon (Low German: Plattdüütsch) lyric and epic poems, which reflect the influence of Johann Peter Hebel, Groth gives poetic expression to the country life of his northern home; and though his descriptions may not always reflect the peculiar characteristics of the peasantry of Holstein as faithfully as those of Fritz Reuter, yet Groth is a lyric poet of genuine inspiration.
His chief works are Quickborn, Volksleben - in plattdeutschen Gedichten Ditmarscher Mundart (1852; 25th ed. 1900; and in (standard) German translations, notably by MJ Berchem, Krefeld, 1896); and two volumes of stories, Vertelln (1835-1859, 3rd ed. 1881); also Vær de Görn (1858) and Ut min Jungsparadies (1875). Groth was good friends with Johannes Brahms, and Brahms set many of his songs to music.
Groth's Gesammelte Werke appeared in 4 vols. (Kiel, 1893). His Lebenserinnerungen were edited by E. Wolff in 1891; see also K. Eggers, K. Groth und die plattdeutsche Dichtung (1885); and biographies by A. Bartels (1899) and H. Siercks (1899).
- This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Groth, Klaus". Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press
- "Groth, Klaus". New International Encyclopedia. 1905.
- http://lowlands-l.net/groth/ (selected poems with English translations)