Wolfgang Arthur Reinhold Koeppen (June 23, 1906 – March 15, 1996) was a German novelist and one of the best known German authors of the post-war period.
Koeppen was born out of wedlock in Greifswald to a seamstress. His father never accepted the fatherhood formally. He lived first in his grandmother's house on Bahnhofstrasse, but moved after her death in 1908 together with his mother to her sister in Ortelsburg (Szczytno), East Prussia, where Koeppen started visiting the public school. He and his mother moved back to Greifswald in 1912, but only two years later returned to East Prussia. Koeppen came back to Greifswald after World War I, working as a delivery boy for a book dealer. During that time he volunteered at the theater and attended lectures at the University of Greifswald. Finally in 1920, Koeppen left Greifswald permanently, and after twenty years of moving about, he settled in Munich, living there the remainder of his life. Throughout the 1950s, Koeppen travelled extensively, to the U.S., the Soviet Union, London and Warsaw.
Koeppen's wife died in the year 1984, and he himself died in a nursing home in Munich in 1996. To the remembrance of the author and to archive his literary achievements and personal belongings, the Wolfgang Koeppen Foundation (German: Stiftung) was founded upon the initiative of fellow authors Günter Grass and Peter Rühmkorf in Greifswald in the year 2000.
In 1947, Koeppen received a book contract to rewrite the memoirs of the philatelist and Holocaust survivor Jakob Littner (born 1883 in Budapest, died 1950 in New York City). The resulting novel caused some controversy based on whether Koeppen was given a written manuscript to guide his work on Littner, and the novel never sold well. In 1992, a new edition was published, which led to the discovery of Littner's original text. In 2000, Littner's original manuscript was published in English and in 2002, in German.
In 1951, Koeppen had published his novel Tauben im Gras (Pigeons on the Grass), which utilized a stream of consciousness literary technique and is considered a significant work of German-language literature by Germany's foremost literary critic Marcel Reich-Ranicki. Das Treibhaus (1953) was translated into English as The Hothouse (2001) and was named a Notable Book by the New York Times and one of the Best Books of the Year by the Los Angeles Times. Koeppen's last major novel Der Tod in Rom (Death in Rome) was published in 1954. In the ensuing years, Koeppen found it difficult to complete longer works.
- Eine unglückliche Liebe (1934) – A Sad Affair (2003)
- Die Mauer schwankt (1935)
- Jakob Littners Aufzeichnungen aus einem Erdloch (1948/1992)
- Tauben im Gras (1951) – Pigeons on the Grass (1988)
- Das Treibhaus (1953) – The Hothouse (2001)
- Der Tod in Rom (1954) – Death in Rome (1956)
- Amerikafahrt (1959) – Journey Through America (2012)
- Jugend (1976)
- Why Greifswald? Ziolkowski, Theodore; World Literature Today; May/Jun2007, Vol. 81 Issue 3, p20-24
- Abschnitt nach: Wolfgang Koeppen – Sein Leben, Seite der Wolfgang-Koeppen-Stiftung, und Zeittafel zu Leben und Werk vom Wolfgang-Koeppen-Archiv der Universität Greifswald.
- Ingo Schramm. "Wolfgang-Koeppen-Stiftung". Wolfgang-koeppen-stiftung.de. Retrieved 2014-02-17.