Hauptmann was born, as one of three sons, to an innkeeper in Ober-Salzbrunn and was the elder
brother of the poet and novelist, Gerhardt. He suffered from poor health, however, which
necessitated his being educated at the village school; but, from age 13, he was able to
attend secondary school at Breslau. He then attended university at Jena where he studied
natural science and obtained a doctorate. His first poetry dates from that time.
In 1883, he journeyed through Italy but resumed further studies in Zurich. He married Martha
Thienemann, daughter of a well to do wool trader, in the following year, his brother Georg
having already married a sister, Adele Thienemann, in 1881 (and Gerhardt married another
sister, Marie, in 1885).
With this new found financial support he resumed studies in Zurich until, in 1889, he moved
to Berlin before settling with Gerhardt, from 1891, in Schreiberhau, Riesengebirge, where he
concentrated on art collecting and literary endeavours which included several novels and dramas.
Martha sought divorce proceedings in 1908 whereupon he married Maria Rohne, an artist, who
bore a daughter, Monone.
Many of his works have been set to music by Berg, Reger, Teichmüller and Wolff.