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An idyllic Biedermeier-era treasure on Lake Constance

Meersburg Prince’s Little House

Meersburg Prince's Little House, state room; image: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Carla Mueller
The second 20th-century heiress manages the estate

Helen von Bothmer

One hundred years after Annette von Droste-Hülshoff, her great-grandnephew Heinrich von Bothmer and his wife, Helen, moved into the Prince's Little House. She endowed the Droste Literary Award for Poetry in 1957, which is awarded to female German authors to this day.

Where was Helen von Bothmer from?

Helen von Bothmer, born Helen Davis in 1908, was an American. In 1936, in New York, she married Heinrich von Bothmer-Schwegerhoff (born 1897 in Charlottenburg), Annette von Droste-Hülshoff's great-grandnephew, who was working in the United States at the time. The couple moved to the Prince's Little House in 1947, as Heinrich had inherited it.

Meersburg Prince's Little House; image: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg

Bothmer family wall.

What tied them to Meersburg?

Helen von Bothmer took on caring for the Droste museum that Marie von Bothmer had established in the Prince's Little House in 1923. She drew on further loaned items and memorabilia from relatives. She looked after the poet's legacy for many years, until her death in 1996. She was best known for a literary award: In 1956 she endowed the "Droste Award", which was first awarded in 1957 and has been awarded every three years since.

For whom is the award intended?

The Droste Award is a literary award that is now presented by the town of Meersburg. It was first awarded in 1957 during Meersburg Droste Literary Days, in memory of the poet. The award is intended for female authors. The grand prize for a complete works is a 6,000-euro endowment. As of 2003, an advancement award is also presented to young female authors in the amount of 4,000 euros.

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