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Wolfgang Hilbig

Wolfgang Hilbig German novelist

German novelist
Wolfgang Hilbig
The basics

Quick Facts

Intro German novelist
A.K.A. Hilbig
Was Writer Poet
From Germany
Type Literature
Gender male
Birth 31 August 1941, Meuselwitz, Germany
Death 2 June 2007, Berlin, Margraviate of Brandenburg (aged 65 years)
Star sign VirgoVirgo
Politics Socialist Unity Party of Germany
Spouse: Natascha Wodin
The details


Wolfgang Hilbig (31 August 1941, Meuselwitz, Lk.ABG, Th.–2 June 2007, Berlin) was a German author and poet. He was a member of the Socialist Unity Party of Germany (GDR, German: DDR).


Wolfgang Hilbig's grandfather emigrated to Thuringia from Biłgoraj before the First World War. In 1942, his father was reported missing at Stalingrad. He left behind Hilbig and his mother.

After his schooling in his home town of Meuselwitz, Hilbig began to work at a boring mill, learning the trade. Later, after military service, he worked as a tool-maker, on the ground, and in assembly construction at the Meuselwitz lignite mine.

In 1978 Hilbig moved to East-Berlin and in 1979 he became an independent writer. In 1985, he left the GDR with a travel visa to go to West Germany.

He lived in Berlin after the fall of the Berlin Wall and was married to Natascha Wodin from 1994 to 2007. They had one daughter. He died from cancer in 2007 and is buried in the 'Dorotheenstädtischen' cemetery in Berlin.


At first Hilbig favoured poetry, but his works remained widely unpublished in the GDR. He received attention from the West however, as a result of his poems in the Anthology 'Cries For Help From The Other Side' (1978). His first volume of poetry, Absence (1979) was published by S. Fischer Verlag in Frankfurt am Main. For this, Hilbig was fined.

At the end of the 1970s, Hilbig gave up his day job and began to work exclusively as a writer. With the support of Franz Fühmann, a few of his poems were printed in a GDR newspaper for the first time. His prose anthology, Unterm Neomond (1982) was published by S. Fischer, followed by Stimme Stimme (1983), a prose and poetry anthology published by Reclam in Leipzig.

In 1985 Hilbig gained a visa for West Germany valid until 1990. During this time he published not only further poetry and prose, but also his first novel, Eine Übertragung (1989), which was received well by literary critics.

Even after reunification, the main themes of his work remained the dual-existence of working and writing in the GDR and the search for individuality. His further works include: his second novel, Ich (1993); his collections of short stories, such as Die Arbeit an den Öfen (1994) and Die Kunde von den Bäumen (1996); and his third novel Das Provisorium (2000). Autobiographical themes are often prevalent.


  • 1983 Hanau Brothers-Grimm-Prize
  • 1989 Ingeborg Bachmann Prize
  • 1993 Brandenburg Literature Prize
  • 1997 Fontane Prize (the Berlin Academy of Arts)
  • 2002 Georg Büchner Prize
The contents of this page are sourced from Wikipedia article on 08 Mar 2020. The contents are available under the CC BY-SA 4.0 license.
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