Georg Buchner

On this date in 1813, playwright and poet Karl Georg Buchner was born in Goddelau, Germany. The eldest child, his siblings included freethinkers Alexander and Ludwig (and Louise, Mathilde and Wilhelm). He studied medicine in Strasbourg and Gissen. An intense student of Spinoza’s writings, Buchner earned a doctorate in philosophy and lectured in natural history in Zurich, Switzerland. Having developed a passion for radical politics, for a short time he edited Der Hessische Landbote, a pamphlet with the well-known Revolutionary-era slogan “Peace to the Huts and War to the Palaces.”

Despite living only until age 23, Buchner gained a reputation as a powerful playwright and, though he only wrote one, novella author. He wrote the play “Leonce and Lena” (1838) and part of a play called “Woyzeck” (published posthumously in 1879). Some of his other plays have been lost, but “Danton’s Death” (1835), was a well-received work that depicted an atheistic Thomas Paine (whom he called “Payne”). “Danton’s Death” was written about two years before his own death and, by the author’s claim, was completed in less than five weeks.

While a political refugee in Zurich, he died of typhoid fever. In 1923 Buchner’s hometown of Darmstadt, Germany, created the Georg Buchner Prize for literature, which is still a prestigious award. D. 1837.

Freedom From Religion Foundation