Image Courtesy: Google Doodle

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (28 August 1749 – 22 March 1832) was a multi-faceted German figure, encompassing roles as a poet, playwright, novelist, scientist, statesman, theatre director, and critic. His extensive body of work encompasses plays, poetry, literature, and aesthetic criticism, as well as treatises on subjects as diverse as botany, anatomy, and color theory. His influence extends broadly, making him widely regarded as the preeminent and most impactful writer in the German language. His legacy has deeply shaped Western literary, political, and philosophical thought from the late 18th century up to the present day.


Goethe embarked on his academic journey by studying law at Leipzig University between 1765 and 1768. Rather than focusing on memorizing traditional legal doctrines, he was drawn to the teachings of poet and university professor Christian Fürchtegott Gellert. During this time, Goethe developed affection for Anna Katharina Schönkopf, the daughter of a craftsman and innkeeper. He expressed his feelings through joyful Rococo verses. In 1770, he anonymously published his first collection of poems titled “Annette.” His admiration for contemporary poets began to wane as he delved into the works of figures like Gotthold Ephraim Lessing and Christoph Martin Wieland.

Throughout his early years, Goethe penned a substantial body of work, though he eventually discarded much of it, with the exception of the comedy “Die Mitschuldigen.” His encounter with the legend of Johann Georg Faust’s barrel ride in the restaurant Auerbachs Keller left an indelible impression on him, making it a central element in his closet drama “Faust Part One.”

Despite his academic pursuits, Goethe’s studies did not progress as planned, leading him to return to Frankfurt in August 1768.


Johann Wolfgang von Goethe passed away in Weimar in 1832, reportedly due to heart failure. His purported final words, “Mehr Licht!” (More light!), as recounted by his doctor Carl Vogel, remain the subject of some dispute, as Vogel wasn’t present in the room at the exact moment of Goethe’s passing. He was laid to rest in the Ducal Vault at Weimar’s Historical Cemetery.

Goethe’s legacy as a versatile genius, masterful writer, and profound thinker continues to resonate across the spheres of literature, science, and philosophy, etching his name in the annals of history as one of the most impactful figures of his time and beyond.

On 28 August 2011, a Google Doodle was created to celebrate Johann Wolfgang von Goethe 262nd Birthday.

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