Heinrich von Kleist, born in 1777, came of an old Prussian military family, but disliked
military life and resigned his commission in 1799 to devote himself to studious pursuits. He
turned to creative writing in 1801, and during the next ten years created some of the most
remarkable plays in German literature. Kleist had an unstable and almost schizophrenic
personality and his works relect his passionately uncompromising nature and his periodic
fits of wild enthusiasm and morose melancholia. He committed suicide in 1811.