Wilhelmine von Hillern

Wilhelmine of Hillern, born Birch ( born March 11, 1836 in Munich, † December 25, 1916 in Hohenaschau at Prien ) was a German writer whose most successful work, The Vulture Wally was until today often filmed. Wilhelmine of Hillern was successful before marriage under her maiden name Wilhelmine Birch as an actress.

  • 3.1 novels
  • 3.2 novellas and short stories
  • 3.3 plays


Early years as an actress

Wilhelmine of Hillern was born as the only child of actress and writer Charlotte Birch -Pfeiffer and writer, literary and theater critic Christian Andreas Birch. She received a careful training by tutor. Her father, she taught in languages, music and literature. The idols of their childhood and youth, some of which she even met in the home of her parents, including Helene von sleeves, Gustav Heinrich Gans Noble Lord to Putlitzstrasse, Julius Rodenberg, Gustav Freytag, Friedrich von Flotow and Jenny Lind, her own words in 1905 " will always remain the highest female ideal." The writer Felix Dahn she was a close friend.

Wilhelmine of Hillern allowed to visit until the age of 12 for the first time the theater. She decided the game Bogumil Davison's and Rachel's excited against the will of her mother, even to be an actress. Under the patronage of her friend Alexandrine of Baden, she began her career at the Gotha court theater in 1853 in the role of Juliet. In the following years they led to guest appearances including Court Theatre in Braunschweig, Karlsruhe, Berlin and at the Stadttheater in Hamburg and Frankfurt am Main. In Mannheim in 1856 she received an engagement at the Court and National Theatre, was so Grand Ducal Baden Court and National actress, and entered among other things, the tribute of the land of Hermann von Hillern from Karlsruhe in the world premiere of the dramatic poem. She began a secret love relationship with him and was " on the point of [ ... ] to be a German Rachel ," when she became pregnant by Hermann von Hillern.

In 1857 she married the Baden Hofgerichtsrat and later President of the District Court of Freiburg Hermann Hillern and ended her stage career. Born of Wilhelmine soon after marriage son, whose illegitimate procreation according to former standards was scandalous and should be veiled, died 13 days after birth. Rumors that he had died of malnutrition targeted, led to the forced displacement of Hermann Hillerns to Freiburg im Breisgau. The marriage comes three daughters, of whom Hermine Diemer also a writer, born in 1859.

In 1865, Wilhelmine publish Hillern her first novel double life, as well as the following publication A doctor of the soul (1869 ) was well received by the audience. Her novel was taken from my own power The Gazebo 1870 in the popular magazine and appeared in 1872 in book form.

The Vulture - Wally (1875 )

Wilhelmine of Hillerns greatest success in 1875, her novel The Vulture Wally emanating from an anecdote from the youth of the Anna Stainer - Knittel, the Wilhelmine had come to know of Hillern 1870 in Innsbruck. At age 17, Anna Steiner Knittel had hanging on a rope except an eagle's eyrie on a rock face, which was common, but a labor of men for protection against sheep. Wilhelmine of Hillern created from the actual event a dramatic romance novel in which the main female character Walburga refuses the conventions of femininity and violated as a tomboy in her youth spent rough nature.

The novel was translated shortly after the publication in book form in eight languages ​​and was after the German -Prussian War (1870 /71), the first German novel, which appeared translated in France in the Revue des Deux Mondes in the extract and later by Hachette ( under the title La Fille au Vautour ). Wilhelmine of Hillern wrote to her novel in 1880 an eponymous play, which was performed at numerous German stages from 1881. In the 20th century the material on the basis of Wilhelmine Hillerns novel was also filmed several times. Wilhelmine of Hillern appreciated in retrospect her novel The Vulture Wally as a rather mediocre compared to their later works, which she found to be "deeper and psychologically durchgearbeitetere problems " which " can not be compared with the pulse of youthful joy of creation ."

The Oberammergau years 1883-1911 and her death in 1916

Shortly after the publication of the Vulture Wally interrupted Wilhelmine of Hillern their writing. She used her seriously ill husband, who died in 1882. She moved in 1883 to Oberammergau to Hermine Diemer, moved in the highest aristocratic circles and had built the so-called Hillern - Schlößl. With Alfredo Catalani, she worked on the libretto of the opera La Wally, which was premiered in 1892 in Turin. Your last work A slave of freedom was 1903. A year later, she joined in the Ettal monastery converted to the Catholic faith. The Hillern - Schlößl sold it in 1910 and retired in 1911 after Hohenaschau at Prien, where she died in 1916. She was laid to rest in the parish cemetery in Oberammergau.

Literary Development, style and meaning

The early works of Wilhelmine Hillerns are entertainment novels and plays of the Biedermeier period. Around 1900, her writing turned more to the home and mountain novel, in which Wilhelmine was influenced by Hillern among other works of Felix Dahn and Berthold Auerbach. After 1900 her works have on considerably religious references.

"The language of her novels has a penchant for strong effects and drama; she succeeds but rarely get beyond stereotypes. The myth of blood and soil pervades the action. "

In their time, their comedies were huge audience. An autograph collector and the eyes of love experienced several hundred performances especially at the court theaters in Dresden and Berlin.



  • Double Life (novel in 2 volumes, 1865)
  • A doctor of the soul (novel in 4 volumes, 1869)
  • From my own power (1872 )
  • The Vulture - Wally. A history of the Tyrolean Alps ( 1875)
  • Ernestine (1879 )
  • Dreams of youth (1881 )
  • Through its own efforts (novel in three volumes, 1886-87 )
  • On the cross. A novel from Oberammergau Passion (1890)
  • An old dispute. Novel from the Bavarian folk life of the sixties (1898 )
  • The mightiest (1901 )
  • A slave of freedom (novel in six books, 1903)

Novellas and short stories

  • Higher than the church (1877 )
  • And yet she comes! Story from an Alpine monastery of the thirteenth century (1879 )
  • The skald ( Epic poem, 1882)
  • The cemetery flower ( novella, 1883)
  • Higher than the church. A story of old-time (1886 )
  • S'Reis on the way ( novella, 1897)


  • An autograph collector ( comedy in one act, 1870)
  • Good evening, Bluette ( Dramatic joke in one act, 1872)
  • The Eyes of Love ( comedy in 3 acts, 1878)
  • The Vulture - Wally ( drama in 5 lifts, 1880)
  • The blocks of Rofen (Prelude to The Vulture Wally, 1880)
  • La Wally (opera, 1922 published)