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Louise Otto-Peters

Louise Otto-Peters (26 March 1819, Meissen – 13 March 1895, Leipzig) was a German suffragist and women's rights movement activist who wrote novels, poetry, essays, and libretti. She wrote for Der Wandelstern [The Wandering Star] and Sächsische Vaterlandsblätter [Saxon Fatherland Pages], and founded Frauen-Zeitung and Neue Bahnen specifically for women.[1]:181 She is widely acknowledged as the founder of the Allgemeiner Deutscher Frauenverein [General German Women's Association].[1]:1



Louise Otto-Peters was the daughter of a successful lawyer[2]:13 and well educated by private tutors. In 1835, both her parents and an older sister died. Otto-Peters was 17 years old.[2]:140 Otto-Peters lived with her two older sisters and started writing novels, short stories, poetry, and political articles to make a living. She began publishing as a journalist in 1843 "with articles about her concept of femininity, as well as women and politics". Otto-Peters became friends with Robert Blum and other democrats which allowed her to contribute to their newspapers, specifically, Der Wandelstern [The Wandering Star] and Sächsische Vaterlandsblätter [Saxon Fatherland Pages]. By autumn of 1843 Otto-Peters had become a regular staff member for these two publications. Occasionally writing under the pseudonym of Otto Stern.[1]:181 After the democratic revolution of 1848, Otto-Peters founded Frauen-Zeitung, the first political women's newspaper in Germany. Her newspaper brought forth a new law to be implemented which "explicitly forbad women to be editors of newspapers in Saxony". Her newspaper moved from Leipzig to Gera right across the Saxon border and was published until 1853.[1]:182–183

Otto-Peters became engaged to August Peters in 1849 but he was imprisoned for rebellion. They eventually married in 1858 and in 1864 Peters died from heart disease.[2]:140–143 She founded the women's journal Neue Bahnen in 1855. In 1865, Louise Otto-Peters, Minna Cauer, and other women suffragists founded the Allgemeiner Deutscher Frauenverein [General German Women's Association][1]:1 and participated in the first women's conference in Leipzig. She was the primary editor of Neue Bahnen until her death in 1895.[3]:943

Mein Lebensgang, poem of 1893.

Literary and historical significanceEdit

She was called by peers the "songbird of the German women's movement". Her first socio-political novel was Ludwig the Waiter (1843) followed by Castle and Factory (1846-1847) initially confiscated but brought attention to her works.:943 Otto-Peters called on the public for better working conditions for poor women.[2]:13

Published worksEdit

Louise Otto-Peters' published works as cited by An Encyclopedia of Continental Women Writers.[3]:943–944


  • Ludwig der Kellner, 2 volumes, 1843.
  • Kathinka, 2 volumes, 1844.
  • Die Freunde, 3 volumes, 1845.
  • Schloß und Fabrik, 4 volumes, 1846-1847.
  • Römisch und deutsch, 4 volumes, 1847.
  • Buchenheim, 3 volumes, 1851.
  • Jesuiten und Pietisten oder Cäcilie Telville, 3 volumes, 1852.
  • Zwei Generationen, 3 volumes, 1852.
  • Nürnberg, 3 volumes, 1858.
  • Die Schultheientochter von Nürnberg, 3 volumes, 1861.
  • Neue Bahnen, 2 volumes, 1864.
  • Die Idealisten, 4 volumes, 1867.
  • Die Stiftsherren von Straburg, 2 volumes, 1872.
  • Die Nachtigall von Werawag, 4 volumes, 1887.

Novellas and short stories:

  • Aus der neuen Zeit, 1845.
  • Aus der alten Zeit, 2 volumes, 1860.
  • Kunst und Künstlerleben, 1863.
  • Mädchenbilder aus der Gegenwart, 1864.
  • Musikerleiden und- freuden, 1871.
  • Zwischen den Bergen, 2 volumes, 1873.
  • Aus vier Jahrhunderten, 2 volumes, 1883.


  • Lieder eines deutschen Mädchens, 1848.
  • Westwärts, 1849.
  • Gedichte, 1868.
  • Mein Lebensgang, 1893.


  • Adresse eines deutschen Mädchens, 1848.
  • Die Kunst und unsere Zeit, 1852.
  • Das Recht der Frauen auf Erwerb, 1866.
  • Privatgeschichten der Weltgeschichte, 6 volumes, 1868-1872.
  • Frauenleben im Deutschen Reich, 1876.
  • Das erste Vierteljahrhundert des Allgemeinen Deutschen Frauenvereins, 1890.

Opera libretti:

Editor or co-editor of journals:

  • Deutsche Frauenzeitung
  • Mitteldeutsche Volkszeitung
  • Neue Bahnen
  • Vaterlandsblätter (contributor under the pseudonym Otto Stern)
DBP 1974 791 Louise Otto-Peters

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c d e Mikus, Birgit (2014). The Political Woman in Print: German Women's Writing 1845-1919. Bern, Switzerland: Peter Lang AG, International Academic Publishers. ISBN 9783034317368.
  2. ^ a b c d Diethe, Carol (1998). Towards Emancipation: German Women Writers of the Nineteenth Century. Berghahn Books. ISBN 1571819339.
  3. ^ a b Wilson, Katharina M. (1991). An Encyclopedia of Continental Women Writers. New York & London: Garland Publishing, Inc. |access-date= requires |url= (help)

Further readingEdit

  • Adler, Hans. "On a Feminist Controversy: Louise Otto vs. Louise Aston," in Joeres, Ruth-Ellen B. and M.J. Maynes, eds., German Women in the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries: A Social and Literary History. Bloomington: Indiana UP, 1986: 193-214.
  • Joeres, Ruth-Ellen Boetcher. Die Anfänge der deutschen Frauenbewegung: Louise Otto-Peters. Frankfurt a/M: Fischer, 1983.
  • Joeres, Ruth-Ellen Boetcher. "Louise Otto and Her Journals: A Chapter in Nineteenth-Century German Feminism," Internationales Archiv für Sozialgeschichte der deutschen Literatur, IV (1979): 100-29.
  • Koepcke, Cordula. Louise Otto-Peters. Die rote Demokratin. Freiburg: Herder, 1981.
  • Diethe, Carol. The life and work of Germany's founding feminist Louise Otto-Peters Lewiston : Edwin Mellen Press, 2002 (in English)

External linksEdit