Hans Henny Jahnn

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Jahnn (at the far left) at the founding of the German PEN Club in 1948

Hans Henny Jahnn (17 December 1894, Stellingen – 29 November 1959, Hamburg) was a German playwright, novelist, and organ-builder.

As a playwright, he wrote: Pastor Ephraim Magnus (1917), which The Cambridge Guide to Theatre describes as a nihilistic, Expressionist play "stuffed with perversities and sado-masochistic motifs"; Coronation of Richard III (1922; "equally lurid");[1] and a version of Medea (1926). Later works include the novel Perrudja, an unfinished trilogy of novels River without Banks (Fluss ohne Ufer), the drama Thomas Chatterton (1955; staged by Gustaf Gründgens in 1956),[1] and the novella The Night of Lead. Erwin Piscator staged Jahnn's The Dusty Rainbow (Der staubige Regenbogen) in 1961.[1]

Jahnn was also a music publisher, focusing on 17th-century organ music. He was a contemporary of organ-builder Rudolf von Beckerath.

Personal life[edit]

He met Gottlieb Friedrich Harms, with whom he was united in a "mystical wedding" in 1913, at a secondary school (the St. Pauli Realschule) which they both attended, and they lived together between 1914 and 1918.[2] They met Ellinor Philips in 1918. In 1919, Jahnn founded the community of Ugrino with a sculptor, Franz Buse.[3] In 1926, Jahnn married Ellinor, and Harms married Sybille Philips, Ellinor's sister, in 1928.

Jahnn's bisexuality, well-documented in his life, appears as well throughout his literary work.[4]


  1. ^ a b c Banham (1998, 553).
  2. ^ Jan Bürger, 2003. Der gestrandete Wal. Das maßlose Leben des Hans Henny Jahnn. Die Jahre 1894–1935. Berlin: Aufbau-Verlag. ISBN 3-351-02552-1.
  3. ^ Jochen Hengst und Heinrich Lewinski, 1991. Hanns Henny Jahnn: Ugrino. Hannover: Revonnah Verlag. ISBN 3-927715-08-5
  4. ^ Molitor, Dietrich; Popp, Wolfgang (1986), Siegener Hans Henny Jahnn Kolloquium: Homosexualität und Literatur, Blaue Eule, ISBN 3-89206-142-4 


  • Banham, Martin, ed. 1998. "Jahnn, Hans Henny." In The Cambridge Guide to Theatre. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-43437-8. p. 553.
  • Freeman, Thomas. Hans Henny Jahnn. Eine Biographie. Hoffmann und Campe. Hamburg, 1986. ISBN 3-455-08608-X
  • Freeman, Thomas P. The Case of Hans Henny Jahnn. Criticism and the Literary Outsider. Camden House, Rochester N.Y. Boydell & Brewer, Suffolk, UK, 2001. ISBN 1-57113-206-6
  • The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia