Michael Hofmann

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Michael Hofmann
Born (1957-08-25) 25 August 1957 (age 64)
Freiburg, West Germany
OccupationPoet, translator
GenreCriticism, poetry, translation

Michael Hofmann (born 25 August 1957 in Freiburg, West Germany) is a German-born poet who writes in English and a translator of texts from German.


Hofmann was born in Freiburg, West Germany into a family with a literary tradition. His father was the German novelist Gert Hofmann (died 1993). His maternal grandfather edited the Brockhaus Enzyklopädie.[1] Hofmann's family first moved to Bristol in 1961, and later to Edinburgh. He was educated at Winchester College,[2] and then studied English Literature and Classics at Magdalene College, Cambridge, graduating with a BA in 1979 and an MA in 1984.[3][4]

In 1983, Hofmann started working as a freelance writer, translator, and literary critic.[5] He has since gone on to hold visiting professorships at the University of Michigan, Rutgers University, the New School University, Barnard College, and Columbia University. He was first a visitor to the University of Florida in 1990, joined the faculty in 1994, and became full-time in 2009. He has been teaching poetry and translation workshops.[6]

In 2008, Hofmann was Poet-in-Residence in the state of Queensland in Australia.[7]

Hofmann has two sons, Max (1991) and Jakob (1993).[citation needed] He splits his time between Hamburg and Gainesville, Florida.[citation needed]


Hofmann received the Cholmondeley Award in 1984 for Nights in the Iron Hotel[8] and the Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize in 1988 for Acrimony.[9] The same year, he also received the Schlegel-Tieck Prize for his translation of Patrick Süskind's Der Kontrabaß (The Double Bass).[10] In 1993 he received the Schlegel-Tieck Prize again for his translation of Wolfgang Koeppen's Death in Rome.[10]

Hofmann was awarded the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize in 1995 for the translation of his father's novel The Film Explainer,[11] and Michael was nominated again in 2003 for his translation of Peter Stephan Jungk's The Snowflake Constant.[12] In 1997 he received the Arts Council Writer's Award for his collection of poems Approximately Nowhere,[11] and the following year he received the International Dublin Literary Award for his translation of Herta Müller's novel The Land of Green Plums.[11]

In 1999, Hofmann was awarded the PEN/Book-of-the-Month Club Translation Prize for his translation of Joseph Roth's The String of Pearls.[13] In 2000, Hofmann was selected as the recipient of the Helen and Kurt Wolff Translator's Prize for his translation of Joseph Roth's novel Rebellion (Die Rebellion).[14] In 2003 he received another Schlegel-Tieck Prize for his translation of his father's Luck,[10] and in 2004 he was awarded the Oxford-Weidenfeld Translation Prize for his translation of Ernst Jünger's Storm of Steel.[15] In 2005 Hofmann received his fourth Schlegel-Tieck Prize for his translation of Gerd Ledig's The Stalin Organ.[10] Hofmann served as a judge for the Griffin Poetry Prize in 2002, and in 2006 Hofmann made the Griffin's international shortlist for his translation of Durs Grünbein's Ashes for Breakfast.[16]

Critical Writing[edit]

Hofmann has a reputation for writing negative review essays. Philip Oltermann remarks on the "savagery" with which Hofmann "can wield a hatchet", stating (with reference to Hofmann's dislike for Stefan Zweig) that: "Like a Soho drunk stumbling into the National Portrait Gallery in search of a good scrap, Hofmann has battered posthumous reputations with the same glee as those of the living."[17]

Selected bibliography[edit]


  • Hofmann, Michael (1984), Nights in the iron hotel, London: Faber and Faber, ISBN 978-0-571-13116-7
  • Hofmann, Michael (1986), Acrimony, London: Faber and Faber, ISBN 978-0-571-14528-7
  • Hofmann, Michael (1993), Corona, Corona, London: Faber and Faber, ISBN 978-0-571-17052-4
  • Hofmann, Michael (1999), Approximately nowhere: poems, London: Faber and Faber, ISBN 978-0-571-19524-4
  • Hofmann, Michael (2002), Behind the lines: pieces on writing and pictures, London: Faber and Faber, ISBN 978-0-571-19523-7
  • Hofmann, Michael (2014), Where Have You Been?: Selected Essays, New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, ISBN 978-0-374-25996-9
  • Hofmann, Michael (2018), One Lark, One Horse, London: Faber and Faber, ISBN 978-0-571-342297





  1. ^ Michael Hofmann. Author Statement British Council, 2008
  2. ^ Hofmann, Michael (7 October 1993). "Don't Blub". London Review of Books. 15 (19): 18–19.
  3. ^ 'Cambridge Tripos results', The Guardian, 21 June 1979, p. 4.
  4. ^ 'Michael Hofmann. b. 1957'. poetryfoundation.org. Retrieved 5 October 2021.
  5. ^ Brearton, Fran (1999), "An interview with Michael Hofmann: Where is our home key anyway?", Thumbscrew (3): 30–46, ISSN 1369-5371, archived from the original on 27 February 2017, retrieved 27 June 2007.
  6. ^ Michael Hofmann University of Florida, Department of English Faculty. Retrieved 16 January 2018
  7. ^ Hofmann, Michael (22 November 2019). "'The Resident', a new poem by Michael Hofmann". Australian Book Review. Retrieved 24 September 2021.
  8. ^ "Cholmondely Award for Poets (past winners)". The Society of Authors. 2007. Archived from the original on 10 February 2007. Retrieved 27 June 2007.
  9. ^ Merrit, Moseley (2007). "The Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize". Archived from the original on 20 July 2011. Retrieved 27 June 2007.
  10. ^ a b c d "Schlegel-Tieck Prize (past winners)". The Society of Authors. 2007. Archived from the original on 10 March 2007. Retrieved 27 June 2007.
  11. ^ a b c "Michael Hofmann". British Council Literature. British Council. Retrieved 14 January 2016.
  12. ^ "Swedish author wins Independent Foreign Fiction Prize 2003". Arts Council England. 7 April 2003. Archived from the original on 29 September 2007. Retrieved 2 July 2007.
  13. ^ "Book-of-the-Month-Club Translation Prize winners". PEN American Center. 2007. Archived from the original on 7 June 2011. Retrieved 2 July 2007.
  14. ^ "Michael Hofmann recipient of the 2000 Helen and Kurt Wolff Translator's Prize". Goethe Institute. 2000. Retrieved 28 June 2007.
  15. ^ "The Oxford-Weidenfeld Translation Prize (previous winners)". St. Anne's College. 2007. Retrieved 27 June 2007.
  16. ^ "The Griffin Trust for Excellence in Poetry: Shortlist 2006 – Michael Hofmann". The Griffin Trust for Excellence in Poetry. 2007. Archived from the original on 1 July 2007. Retrieved 25 July 2007.
  17. ^ "English is basically a trap". 9 April 2016.

External links[edit]