An idyllic Biedermeier-era treasure on Lake Constance

Meersburg Prince’s Little House

Büste der Annette von Droste-Hülshoff  von Anton Rüller im Fürstenhäusle Meersburg; Foto: Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Steffen Hauswirth
A poet's happy years in Meersburg

Annette von

Droste-Hülshoff

She is still considered one of Germany's greatest poets. Annette von Droste-Hülshoff (1797–1848) spent happy years in Meersburg and purchased the Prince's Little House with her earnings from the works she published with German publisher Cotta.

Meersburg Prince's Little House, bust of Annette von Droste-Hülshoff; image: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Bernhard Wrobel

Annette von Droste-Hülshoff in her youth.

Who was Annette von Droste-Hülshoff?

She was born in 1797 near Münster in Westphalia at Hülshoff Castle as Baroness von Droste zu Hülshoff. Her literary prowess was apparent from an early age, and she corresponded with many famous poets and intellectuals of the time. However, she was bound by the demands of her family. She was also frequently ill. She escaped the confines of her obligations during her visits to her sister on Lake Constance.

Meersburg Castle and Meersburg New Palace; image: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Achim Mende

Annette von Droste-Hülshoff lived at Meersburg Castle.

Where did the poet spend her time in Meersburg?

Her sister, Jenny, and Jenny's husband Joseph von Laßberg resided at Meersburg Castle. Annette von Droste-Hülshoff stayed with them and greatly enjoyed her three long visits there. She spent the majority of her time there from 1841 on, until her death in 1848. She was already famous: "The Jew's Beech," which remains her most famous work, appeared in the "Morgenblatt für gebildete Stände" (Morning Paper for the Well-Educated) in 1842, a leading publication of the time, published by Cotta, a Stuttgart publisher. Her time in Meersburg is considered one of her most productive creative periods.

An ornate little book at the Meersburg Prince's Little House; image: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Markus Schwerer

Droste's quill produced numerous works.

What were Annette von Droste-Hülshoff’s talents?

She is most famous as a poet and writer. She wrote many poems. Her most well-known poem remains the ballad, "The Boy on the Moor." She was also quite musically gifted, but she is hardly remembered for it. She had an excellent singing voice, played the piano and composed many songs as well as dramatic works.

How did she pay for the Prince's Little House?

The unmarried baroness from Münster wasn't exactly poor, but she did not have much money at her disposal. Her writing and her brother's annuity enabled her to purchase the Prince's Little House at the auction in Meersburg. The publisher, Cotta, paid a respectable sum for her second volume of poetry. This was a unique circumstance, as it was unusual for a woman to earn her own money in the 19th century.

Büste der Annette von Droste-Hülshoff beim Alten Schloss Meersburg; Foto: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Arnim Weischer

A monument to the famous Westphalian poet stands at Meersburg Castle

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