Johann Wolfgang von Goethe was a German poet, novelist, playwright, and scholar. With his friend
, Goethe was the leading spirit in the Sturm und Drang
period of German literature. His autobiographical novel, The Sorrows of Young Werther
(1774), was acclaimed all over Europe. In 1775 he settled at the court of Weimar and turned this small German town into a major cultural center. He wrote a number of plays and translated works in other European languages into German, but his greatest fame rests on his poetic drama Faust
(1808, 1832) and his Wilhelm Meister
novels (1795-96, 1829), which explore in their different ways the pilgrimage of the human soul. He also made contributions to botany and comparative anatomy.