Friedrich Schiller, a famed dramatist, poet, and essayist, was born in Marbach, a small town in southwest Germany, to Elisabeth Kodweiss and Johann Kaspar Schiller, a lieutenant in the army of the Duke of Württemberg. Though tutored in Latin at an early age by his local pastor to prepare him for theological studies, Schiller was mandated by the duke to attend the duke’s new military academy, Karlsschule.
Schiller later related how his rebellion against the suffocating rigidity and isolation of Karlsschule paradoxically fostered his love of poetry. He remained at the school for eight years, focusing first on law, then on medicine. After his second medical dissertation, “On the Connection of the Animal Nature of Man with his Spiritual Nature,”was accepted, he became a regimental physician in Stuttgart.
There, he completed his first drama, The Robbers, the staging of which a year later (1782) in Mannheim brought him immediate acclaim and confirmation of his literary gifts.When the duke forbade him to write anything but medical treatises, Schiller fled Württemberg. For most of the rest of his life he would suffer considerable financial hardship and extremely poor health.