Theodor Fontane 30 December 1819 – 20 September 1898) was a German novelist and poet regarded by many as the most important 19th-century author in the German language. Fontane was born in Neuruppin, a town 30 miles northwest of Berlin, into a Huguenot family. At the age of sixteen he was apprenticed to an apothecary, his father’s profession. He became an apothecary himself, and during 1839, at the age of 20, wrote his first work – now lost.
He later lived in London and wrote about his experiences there. By then he was married and had two sons. Back in Neuruppin he wrote about his wanderings through the area, which became a best seller. His name and that of his birthplace are always linked. His birth there 200 years ago is being celebrated throughout this year.
I went there on Wednesday morning with 8 members of ‘The Lichtenberg Library Support Group’. I know the lady who leads the group so got an invitation to join in the adventure. A really interesting day out. We took the local regional train and got to know each other before we arrived in Neuruppin. Throughout the centre of the town you can find lots of information placards, such as the house where he was born. We wandered through the area and read all the placards.
We then wandered to the shores of Ruppiner See (lake) which flows through the town. There we had lunch – and yes, I ate asparagus again! I found the doors to the toilets interesting and wondered if the owners get complaints from female guests. See the photo. We then went to the local museum which is hosting a big Fontane exhibition. We had booked a guided tour so we got lots of information about Fontane and his use of language – including his criticisms of language development. We also got examples of how he played with language and meaning.
We relaxed in the museum garden before slowly walking back to the railway station and the regional train to Berlin. A really interesting day and one I would not have had on my own. It was better to be in a group and share in the events that make up the day. I would be happy to return for there really is a lot to see and learn about the town and its most famous son.