1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Hahn-Hahn, Ida, Countess von

HAHN-HAHN, IDA, Countess von (1805–1880), German author, was born at Tressow, in Mecklenburg-Schwerin, on the 22nd of June 1805, daughter of Graf (Count) Karl Friedrich von Hahn (1782–1857), well known for his enthusiasm for the stage, upon which he squandered a large portion of his fortune. She married in 1826 her wealthy cousin Count Adolf von Hahn-Hahn. With him she had an extremely unhappy life, and in 1829 her husband’s irregularities led to a divorce. The countess travelled, produced some volumes of poetry indicating true lyrical feeling, and in 1838 appeared as a novelist with Aus der Gesellschaft, a title which, proving equally applicable to her subsequent novels, was retained as that of a series, the book originally so entitled being renamed Ida Schönholm. For several years the countess continued to produce novels bearing a certain subjective resemblance to those of George Sand, but less hostile to social institutions, and dealing almost exclusively with aristocratic society. The author’s patrician affectations at length drew upon her the merciless ridicule of Fanny Lewald in a parody of her style entitled Diogena (1847), and this and the revolution of 1848 together seem to have co-operated in inducing her to embrace the Roman Catholic religion in 1850. She justified her step in a polemical work entitled Von Babylon nach Jerusalem (1851), which elicited a vigorous reply from H. Abeken. In 1852 she retired into a convent at Angers, which she, however, soon left, taking up her residence at Mainz where she founded a nunnery, in which she lived without joining the order, and continued her literary labours. For many years her novels were the most popular works of fiction in aristocratic circles; many of her later publications, however, passed unnoticed as mere party manifestoes. Her earlier works do not deserve the neglect into which they have fallen. If their sentimentalism is sometimes wearisome, it is grounded on genuine feeling and expressed with passionate eloquence. Ulrich and Gräfin Faustine, both published in 1841, mark the culmination of her power; but Sigismund Forster (1843), Cecil (1844), Sibylle (1846) and Maria Regina (1860) also obtained considerable popularity. She died at Mainz on the 12th of January 1880.

Her collected works, Gesammelte Werke, with an introduction by O. von Schaching, were published in two series, 45 volumes in all (Regensburg, 1903–1904). See H. Keiter, Gräfin Hahn-Hahn (Würzburg, undated); P. Haffner, Gräfin Ida Hahn-Hahn, eine psychologische Studie (Frankfort, 1880); A. Jacoby, Ida Gräfin Hahn-Hahn (Mainz, 1894).