HERMANN HESSE (1877–1962) was a German poet and novelist who won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1946. Hesse was born in Calw, a town in the north of the Black Forest. A precocious and headstrong child, he was constantly at odds with his religious upbringing and a prescribed eduction at the seminary he attended in Maulbronn Abbey.
His experiences of childhood, adolescence and the desire to break into the world as an artist would form the matter of his first three novels, Peter Camenzind, The Prodigy and Gertrude. Following an ever-present spiritual thirst, Hesse read widely on theosophy, Buddhism and the burgeoning field of psychoanalysis, even becoming a patient of Carl Jung.
This seeking is evident in some of his greatest novels, such as Demian and Siddhartha. Little known outside of Germany at the time of his death, the timely arrival of the translation of Siddhartha, published by Peter Owen, struck a particular chord with the counterculture movement of the 1960s. Soon after, Hesse became one of the most widely read and translated European authors of the 20th century.