Poems Without Frontiers

Poems in Translation

 This Site  Web

Louise Otto-Peters 1819- 1895

Louise Otto was born in Meißen as daughter to a law court director and was privately educated. Both parents died of TB in quick succession in 1834/35, however, and all four daughters were cared for by an aunt.

Higher education was closed to females but, with the benefit of a legacy from her parents' estate, she devoted herself to private study, writing and poetry. Her first poem, Die Klöpplerinnen, (The Laceworkers), on the plight of economically oppressed women workers was published in a Leipzig newspaper in 1840.

She published her first novel, Ludwig der Kellner, in 1843 and began an association with the social reformer, Robert Blum, with whom she shared common values publishing critical social studies on the restrictions on work opportunities for, and the representation of, women.

Her novel, Schloß und Fabrik, (Castle and Factory) dealing with industrial poverty of women, was prohibited by the censors until revised by the author. After publication in 1847 of her poetry collection, Lieder eines deutschen Mädchens, (Songs of a German Girl), she developed ideas on social and legal equality of the sexes leading to her founding a women's movement and newspaper in 1849 but which was banned in the following year. She was also active in writing on music and the theatre.

She married the activist of the 1848 revolution, August Peters, in 1858 after he had been released from prison. They, together, produced a newspaper with a view to social improvement but August died in 1864.

She became a founder member of the Leipzig Women's Society which shortly thereafter was launched nationally with membership restricted to women. Its purpose was to campaign for education, employment and university entrance for women; topics for which Louise campaigned until her death 30 years later.