Friedrich Heinrich Karl de la Motte, Baron Fouqué was born in Brandenburg, Germany in 1777. He stemmed from a military family; his grandfather had been one of Frederick the Great’s generals and his father was a Prussian officer. Fouqué followed suit, giving up his university studies at Halle to join the army, and taking part in the Rhine campaign of 1794. However, he retired some years later to devote his life to literary works, publishing his first book, Dramatische Spiele von Pellegrin, in 1804.
Most of Fouqué’s literary output was heavily Romantic in character. For example, in the Historie vom edlen Ritter Galmy (1806) he versified a 16th century romance of medieval chivalry. His trilogy of plays - Sigurd der Schlangentödter, ein Heldenspiel in sechs Abentheuren (1808), Sigurds Rache (1809) and Aslauga (1810) – brought him considerable literary acclaim, and between 1810 and 1815 Fouqué experienced something of a golden era. His novella Undine (1811) was highly popular, and is still read today.
From the 1820s onwards, however, his powers declined. Fouqué died in Berlin in 1843, aged 65.