Peter Rosegger

Life and work

Peter Rosegger grew up in a peasant society where hardly anyone could read and write. The fact that the forest farmer's boy, who enjoyed only a meagre school education, became one of the most famous and successful writers of his time has not only to do with his talent, but also with particularly fortunate circumstances.

[Translate to English:] Ein Junge sieht zur Büste Roseggers hoch und hält ein Stück Brot in der rechten Hand. Ein Kranz liegt am Fuß des Rosegger-Brunnens. [Translate to English:] Ein Junge sieht zur Büste Roseggers hoch und hält ein Stück Brot in der rechten Hand. Ein Kranz liegt am Fuß des Rosegger-Brunnens.

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For Peter Rosegger's health and creativity, a peaceful and orderly domesticity was of enormous importance. He showed his greatest creative power in times of greatest happiness. In 1872 the poet married Anna Pichler, the daughter of a hat manufacturer in Graz. "Now came a very beautiful, happy time. I was completely healthy again. We led an ideal domestic life. [...] At that time I worked with pleasure and success. I wrote several works in one year, including "Die Schriften des Waldschulmeisters" (The Writings of the Forest Schoolmaster), which was to become one of his most famous works. In 1873 son Sepp was born, followed by daughter Anna in 1875. Shortly after their birth, Rosegger's wife died. Her death plunged the poet into deep despair. He was now a widower with two small children.

In 1879 Rosegger married the 19-year-old Anna Knaur, daughter of a Viennese builder friend. "Anna became my wife and so the circle of family has closed again, whose warmth and peace is the first need for my existence, as well as for my intellectual activity."
Rosegger saw his family life back on an orderly course, he could now concentrate on his writing career and did so successfully. In 1880 the second son Hans Ludwig was born, in 1893 Margarete was born and in 1890 the nestling Martha.

[Translate to English:] Gruppenbild mit dem 70jährigen Peter Rosegger, umgeben von Familienmitgliedern

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Preserved for posterity

As an apprentice tailor, he moved from farm to farm, and Jakob Eduard Schmölzer encouraged him to record especially songs that he heard. By writing down these songs, poems and stories, which had previously only been passed down orally, they were able to survive until today.

We owe Rosegger insights into the social and economic situation of the "Waldheimat". He recorded the customs and traditions as well as the superstitions of his closer and wider homeland. He also handed down the rural living culture in drawings.

[Translate to English:] Ecke mit Bauerntisch, Wiege und Kienspanhalter in der Großen Stube des Geburtshauses.

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City versus country

Rosegger spent the first two decades of his life in the countryside. At the age of 22, he moved to Graz and only visited his rural home during holidays. Later he regularly spent the summers in Krieglach, as he had a summer house built for himself in 1877, at that time still on the outskirts of the village. He spent the autumn and winter months in his city flat in Graz. 

"Every year, the good fortune gave me six months of earthly life in the city and six months of paradise in the countryside."

[Translate to English:] Gebäude vor der Oper, im Hintergrund der Schloßberg

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Peter Rosegger was not only a poet and storyteller, we also have him to thank for insights into the social and economic situation of the "Waldheimat" - a region that would otherwise hardly have been explored. Rosegger first used this term in 1872 in the story "Die Staudenwinkelin. Erinnerungen aus der Waldheimat".

Five years later, the book "Waldheimat. Erinnerungen aus der Jugendzeit" was published five years later, the success of which played a major role in spreading this regional term in the German-speaking world. The term "Waldheimat", originally used exclusively in literary terms, was adopted as a regional designation in the maps during the poet's lifetime.

[Translate to English:] Der Kluppeneggerhof von Peter Rosegger gezeichnet

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Critical, committed and excellent

It is often unknown that Rosegger was also a critical and contentious journalist who devoted himself to current topics in his monthly magazine Heimgarten. In his texts he was critical of society and called for improvements, especially in social and educational matters, and he was involved in activities that today would be called "charity": he called for various fundraising activities and supported them not only with his name.

Under the influence of the members of the regulars' table at the "Krug zum grünen Kranze", consisting of famous personalities from the Graz art and cultural scene, the originally liberal-minded poet switched to the national camp. However, he did not allow himself to be taken in by political parties. His comments on political, social and religious issues brought him criticism time and again, but he was hardly influenced by it. He often took insults to his person with humour and also shared them with his readers in Heimgarten.

[Translate to English:] Cover des Buches "Weltgift" von Peter Rosegger

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1843 On July 31, Peter Rosegger is born as the eldest son of Lorenz and Maria Roßegger in Alpl/Krieglach. Between 1845 and 1857 Peter has six siblings.

1848-1854 Peter and the Alpl children receive irregular schooling from Michel Patterer, who was forced to leave St. Kathrein/Hauenstein due to his revolutionary views.

1860 As Peter is too weak for the hard work of a mountain farmer and too poor to study for the priesthood, he begins an apprenticeship as a tailor with master craftsman Ignaz Orthofer, passes his journeyman's examination and remains with Orthofer until 1865. The first writings in dialect are produced.

1864 He sends a selection of his poems, stories and notes to the Grazer Tagespost. The editor Dr. Adalbert Svoboda recognizes his talent and begins to promote him.

1865-1869 In February, Peter leaves the Alpl and begins an apprenticeship as a bookseller in Ljubljana. After a few days, he returns to Graz and joins the Academy for Trade and Industry as a trainee. Here he supplements his lack of school knowledge. Patrons such as the industrial magnate Peter von Reininghaus supported him.


1867 On his first major vacation trip, he meets Adalbert Stifter in Linz.

1868 The Kluppeneggerhof is auctioned off and the parents and younger siblings retire and move to a cottage. 

1869 Peter leaves the commercial academy and publishes his first book, Zither und Hackbrett, which is his breakthrough. His second book, Tannenharz und Fichtennadeln, was published in the same year.

1872 The death of his beloved mother shatters his health. In the same year, he meets Anna Pichler, the daughter of a hat manufacturer in Graz. A trip to Italy takes him as far as Naples.

1873 On May 13, Peter and Anna marry and the couple lives in the Pichler family home in Sackstrasse in Graz.

1874 Son Josef is born.

1875 The novel Aus den Schriften des Waldschulmeisters (The Forest Schoolmaster) is published. After the birth of their daughter Anna, Rosegger's wife dies in childbirth.

1876 Rosegger founds the monthly magazine Heimgarten, in which he comments on all problems as editor-in-chief until 1910 and uses it as a platform for his views and concerns.

1877 A house is built in Krieglach, where the family lives during the summer months. The first volume of his youthful memoirs Waldheimat is published and Rosegger begins his reading tours at home and abroad.

1879 Marriage to Anna Knaur, the daughter of the Viennese building contractor Wilhelm Knaur. This marriage brought Rosegger into the upper echelons of society.

1880 Son Hans Ludwig is born.

1881 After the death of his publisher Heckenast, Hartleben in Vienna publishes twelve volumes of Rosegger's Selected Writings, followed by a further twenty titles until 1894. The weekly dinner party at the "Krug zum grünen Kranze" begins.

1882 The novel Heidepeters Gabriel is published, a literary memorial to his first wife.

1883 Daughter Margarete is born.

1888 Jakob der Letzte is published and stimulates a public debate on agricultural issues and the farmer problem.


1890 Daughter Martha is born.

1892 Rosegger gives a lecture to the Friends of Peace Assembly in Vienna and comes into contact with Bertha von Suttner. Seriously ill, he begins to study the Gospels intensively.

1894 Rosegger moves from the Hartleben publishing house to the Staackmann publishing house in Leipzig, which begins to market him intensively. 

1898 He protests against the language ordinance in Bohemia and Moravia, sympathizes strongly with Protestantism and creates his own undogmatic religion. The Rosegger Society is founded in Mürzzuschlag.


1900 Appeal for donations to build a Protestant church in Mürzzuschlag.

1902 Rosegger donates an elementary school for the children of Alpl.

1903 Numerous honors on his 60th birthday. He receives an honorary doctorate from the University of Heidelberg.

1904 Appeal for donations for the burnt-down Catholic church in St. Kathrein/Hauenstein.


1909 Appeal for a 2 million collection for the establishment and maintenance of German schools on the language borders.

1913 Rosegger receives numerous honors on his 70th birthday, including an honorary doctorate from the University of Vienna and much more.

1913-1916 The final edition is published in 40 volumes by Staackmann.

1917 Honorary doctorate from the University of Graz.


1918 Emperor Karl awards the poet, who is already seriously ill, the Grand Cross of the Order of Franz Joseph. On June 26, Peter Rosegger dies in his country house in Krieglach surrounded by his family. In accordance with his wishes, he is laid to rest in a simple grave with a wooden cross.