Erik Nitsche: Bettina von Arnim
Artist: Erik Nitsche
A gifted writer, Elizabeth von Arnim, pricked the German conscience about social issues of her day. On April 4, 1785, Elizabeth von Arnim -- also known as Bettina von Arnim -- was born in Frankfurt. She came about her considerable writing ability naturally, for she was the younger sister of the poet Clemens Brentano and the granddaughter of Sophie von Laroche, one of the first free women writers. After the early deaths of her parents, she spent part of her youth in a convent in Fritzlar, then later she lived with her grandmother. Early on, the young writer was attracted to the enlightened artistic environment, and she became a close friend of the mother of poet Johann Wolfgang von Goether. In 1811, Elizabeth married Achim von Arnim and lived much of her life on his estate. Following his death, she found comfort from her many friends in Berlin, including the Grimm brothers, Wilhelm von Humboldt and others. The writings of Elizabeth von Arnim were poignant pieces, dealing with the burning issues of her day. She worked for the poor and the sick, and it was she who showed the ghettos of Berlin, the cancer hospitals and cholera huts to the young student Karl Marx. In addition, Elizabeth was an early advocate for equal rights for women and for humanitarian socialism. In her two Books to the King, written to King Wilhelm IV, she addressed social needs and the suppression of freedom of speech.
This painting was originally published on the Fleetwood® First Day Cover for the Germany 80pf Bettina von Arnim stamp issued February 21, 1985.
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