Hermann Hesse was born in Calw in 1877, a town in the north of the Black Forest. As a child he was constantly at odds with his religious upbringing and education. 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, Steppenwolf, and Siddhartha. Little known outside of Germany at the time of his death in 1962 the arrival of the first English translation of Siddhartha in 1954 struck a 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. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1946.
A subtle distillation of wisdom, stylistic grace and symmetry of form * The Sunday Times * A trusted guide for a generation of readers whose faith in institutions was destroyed by the First World War -- Adam Kirsch * New Yorker * He was an interesting figure who, through his refusal to acknowledge his limitations or the times he lived in, brought something entirely new to the novel -- Philip Hensher * Spectator *