Women Writers You Should Know About #2 Bettina von Arnim
A friend of Goethe and Beethoven, Bettina von Armin (1785 – 1859) was a visionary of the Romantic Era. Born in Frankfurt am Main, Bettina had an impressive pedigree – her grandmother was the novelist Sophie von La Roche. Bettina’s brother, the poet Clemens Brentano introduced the young Bettina to the poetry of Goethe which so inspired the young writer that she developed a great passion for the much older writer. When she was 21 she introduced herself to Goethe by jumping onto his lap and falling asleep. To her chagrin, he did not return her romantic intentions but the friendship they built would inspire Bettina’s most famous work, Goethe’s Correspondence with a Child, a mostly fictitious account of the letters exchanged between the two.
Von Armin was the first woman to set the work of poet Friedrich Hölderlin to music. A Renaissance woman, writing only one of her many talents that included music, sculpting, composing and art. She was said to have a magnetic personality and could command attention from anyone. Seeing her from a distance, a delighted Napoleon was said to have exclaimed ‘Who is that fuzzy young person?’
Her friendship with Goethe continued until 1811 when she quarrelled in public with Goethe’s wife, Christiane, causing Goethe to rightfully side with his wife and sever ties with Bettina much to her chagrin.