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Gottfried Kinkel

Johann Gottfried Kinkel (August 11, 1815 - November 13, 1882) was a German poet.

He was born at Obercassel near Bonn. Having studied theology at Bonn and Berlin, he established himself at Bonn in 1836 as Privatdozent of theology, became master at the gymnasium there, and was for a short time assistant preacher in Cologne.

Changing his religious opinions, he abandoned theology and delivered lectures on the history of art, in which he had become interested on a journey to Italy in 1837. In 1846 he was appointed extraordinary professor of the history of art at the University of Bonn. For his part in the revolution in the Palatinate in 1849, Kinkel was arrested and sentenced to penal servitude for life. He was interned in the fortress of Spandau. His friend Carl Schurz helped him escape to England in November 1850, and Kinkel went to the United States. Returning to London in 1853, he taught German and lectured on German literature, and in 1858 founded the German paper, Hermann. In 1866 he accepted a professorship of archaeology and the history of art at the Polytechnikum in Zürich, where he died sixteen years later.

Kinkel's popularity was hardly out of proportion to his talent; his poetry is of the sweetly sentimental type which was in vogue in Germany in the mid-19th century. His Gedichte first appeared in 1843, and went through several editions. His best works were the verse romances, Otto der Schütz, eine rheinische Geschichte in zwölf Abenteuern (1846) which in 1896 had attained its 75th edition, and Der Grobschmied von Antwerpen (1868). Among his other works were the tragedy Nimrod (1857), and his history of art, Geschichte der bildenden Künste bei den christichen Völkern (1845). Kinkel's first wife, Johanna, née Mockel (1810-1858), assisted her husband in his literary work, and was herself an author of considerable merit. Her autobiographical novel Hans Ibeles in London was not published until 1860, after her death. She also wrote on musical subjects.

See A Strodtmann, Gottfried Kinkel (2 vols., Hamburg, 1851); and Otto Henne am Rhyn, G. Kinkel, ein Lebensbild (Zürich, 1883).

This entry was originally from the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.