Peter Härtling (born 13 November 1933) is a German writer and poet. He is a member of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany, and he received the Großes Verdienstkreuz for his major contribution to German literature. For his lasting contribution as a children's writer, Härtling was a finalist in 2010 for the biennial, the international Hans Christian Andersen Award, and the highest recognition available to creators of children's books.
Härtling was born at Chemnitz, and spent the early part of his childhood living in Hartmannsdorf, Mittweida, where his father maintained a law firm. Following the outbreak of World War II, the family moved to the German-occupied town of Olomouc in Moravia. Like many of the town's German residents, Härtling's family fled before the Red Army's advance on the city during the final months of the war; the family briefly settled in Zwettl, Austria. Härtling's father was captured by the Russians, and died in June 1945 at the prisoner-of-war camp in Dollersheim. Following the conclusion of World War II, Härtling finally settled in Nürtingen, Baden-Württemberg. His mother committed suicide in October 1946. He studied under HAP Grieshaber at the Bernsteinschule art school, before starting work as a journalist.
Härtling had his first collection of poetry published in 1953. From 1967 to 1973, Härtling was the managing director of the German publishing house S. Fischer Verlag, located in Frankfurt. Härtling became a full-time writer after leaving S. Fischer Verlag. In 1976, he published a fairy tale called, Fundevogel (English version as "The Foundling"), which is part of the children's book Update on Rumpelstiltskin and other Fairy Tales by 43 Authors, which is compiled by Hans-Joachim Gelberg, illustrated by Willi Glasauer, and published by Beltz & Gelberg. In the winter semester of 1983/84, he hosted the annual Frankfurter Poetik-Vorlesungen, a lecture series, in which a prominent writer discourses on topics pertaining to their work. Härtling used his lectureship to demonstrate the process of using a found object as the inspiration for a literary work. During the series of lectures, he wrote Der spanische Soldat, a short story based on a photograph by Robert Capa.
Härtling has devoted a large proportion of his literary output – both in poetry, and in prose – to the reclamation of history, and his own past. His autobiographical novel, Zwettl (1973), deals with the period he spent living in Lower Austria, after his family fled from the Red Army. Nachgetragene Liebe (1980) recounts Härtling's earliest memories of his deceased father.
Another major influence on Härtling's works has been the literature and music of Romanticism. Amongst other works, Härtling has written fictionalised biographical works on the writers Friedrich Hölderlin, Wilhelm Waiblinger and E. T. A. Hoffmann, and the composers Franz Schubert, and Robert Schumann.
In 1969, after writing a eulogy for the Czech children's writer Jan Procházka, Härtling began writing books for children. His first children's book, Und das ist die ganze Familie, was published the following year. His children's literature has often focused on social problems involving children. In Das war der Hirbel (1973), he wrote about the home of a maladjusted child, and Oma (1975) talks about aging and death, whilst Theo haut ab (1977) deals with being uprooted from home and family. There are English translations of several of his children's books, including Granny (Oma), Crutches (Krücke), Ben Loves Anna (Ben liebt Anna), Old John (Alter John), and Herbie's World (Das war der Hirbel).
Härtling has been the moderator of the Literatur im Kreuzverhörshow, a radio show on the cultural radio station of Hessischer Rundfunk.
Peter Härtling's awards include:
- 1964: Deutscher Kritikerpreis for Niembsch
- 1965: Lower Saxony Literature Prize for Niembsch
- 1966: Ehrengabe des Kulturkreises im Bundesverband der Deutschen Industrie for Niembsch. Prix du Meilleur Livre Étranger for the French edition of Niembsch
- 1971: Gerhart Hauptmann prize of the Freien Volksbühne Berlin for Gilles
- 1974: Schubart-Literaturpreis
- 1976: Deutscher Jugendliteraturpreis (Children's book) for Oma.
- 1977: Stadtschreiber von Bergen
- 1978: Wilhelmine-Lübke-Preis
- 1980: Zurich children's literature prize La vache qui lit for Ben liebt Anna and Sofie macht Geschichten.
- 1982: Naturschutzpreis der Kreisgruppe Groß-Gerau des Bundes für Umwelt und Naturschutz.
- 1987: Hermann Sinsheimer prize and Friedrich Hölderlin prize
- 1992: Lion Feuchtwanger prize.
- 1994: Awarded the title of Professor by the state of Baden-Württemberg
- 1995: Awarded the Großes Bundesverdienstkreuz
- 1995: Mainz literature prize
- 1996: Awarded the Wilhelm Leuschner medal of Hessen
- 1996: Awarded the Karl Preusker medal by the German Literature Conference
- 2000: Eichendorff Literature Prize
- 2001: Deutscher Jugendliteraturpreis (Special prize) for his major contribution to children's literature
- 2001: Dresdner Poetikdozentur zur Literatur Mitteleuropas (Publikation )
- 2003: Deutscher Bücherpreis for his contribution to literature
- 2004: Honorary citizen of Nürtingen
- 2006: Gerty Spies Literature Prize
- 2006: Finalist, Hans Christian Andersen Award
- 2007: CORINE award of the Bavarian Prime Minister for his contribution to literature
- "Lebensdaten von Peter Härtling" (in German). Peter Härtling. Retrieved 7 February 2010.
- "2006". Hans Christian Andersen Awards. International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY). With contemporary material including the press release, 27 March 2006. Retrieved 22 March 2014.
- "Goethe-Institut Children and Young Adult Literature Portal – Peter Härtling". Goethe-Institut. Retrieved 7 February 2010.
- "Zur Geschichte der Gastdozentur Poetik" (in German). Goethe University Frankfurt. 19 October 2009. Retrieved 7 February 2010.
- Reinhold Grimm (1985). "Review of Der spanische Soldat". 59. University of Oklahoma Press. JSTOR 40141538.
- "Peter Härtling" (in German). Hessischer Rundfunk. Retrieved 7 February 2010.
- "Was bleibt? – Peter Härtling". Goethe-Institut. Retrieved 7 February 2010.
- "Oxford Companion to German Literature: Peter Härtling". Oxford University Press. Retrieved 7 February 2010.
- Egbert Krisypn (1974). "Review of Zwettl". 48. University of Oklahoma Press. JSTOR 40128555.
- Ernestine Schlant (1981). "Review of Nachgetragene Liebe". 55. University of Oklahoma Press. JSTOR 40136080.
- Diner, Dan (1996). America in the eyes of the Germans: An essay on anti-Americanism. Markus Wiener. p. 34. ISBN 978-1-55876-105-6. Retrieved 7 February 2010.
- "Peter Härtling – Hoffmann oder Die vielfältige Liebe" (in German). Perlentaucher. Retrieved 7 February 2010.
- Marjorie L. Hoover (1997). "Review of Schumanns Schatten". 71. University of Oklahoma Press. JSTOR 40152883.
- English books by Peter Härtling at the Open Library
- Herbie's World at WorldCat
- Burckhard Dücker, Peter Härtling, München: Beck: Verlag Edition Text und Kritik, 1983, ISBN 3-406-08694-2 (German)
- Maciej Ganczar, Romantische Künstlerfiguren in der Prosa von Peter Härtling, Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang, 2015, ISBN 978-3-631-66078-2 (German)