Ninon Hesse (Ausländer) (1895 - 1966)

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Birthplace: Czernowitz, Ukraine
Death: Died in Montagnola, Switzerland
Occupation: Art Historian
Managed by: Nicolette Nicholson
Last Updated:

About Ninon Hesse (Ausländer)

Ninon Hesse (née Ausländer, born 18 September 1895 in Czernowitz, died 22 September 1966 in Montagnola) was an art historian and Hermann Hesse's 3rd wife.

Ninon Ausländer was born to a Jewish lawyer in Czernowitz and studied archaeology, art history and medicine in Vienna, Austria. In 1918, she married caricaturist B. F. Dolbin, whom she left in 1920; the official divorce only took place in 1931.

Although she had written a letter to Hesse after reading his novel Peter Camenzind in 1910, she only met him in 1922. The two lived together from 1927 and got married in 1931.

Ninon Hesse played an important role in Hermann Hesse's life not only as the love of his life, but also as she helped him to continue with his work when his eyes got weak by reading to him and writing for him and by collecting and editing his writings and letters after his death in 1962.

Ninon Ausländer, Dolbin by marriage, achieved the feat of satisfying the needs of the man and writer Hermann Hesse in every single respect, albeit not without moments of suffering and doubt. Ninon, born in 1895in Czernowitz, a small town in the eastern crownlands of the Habsburg monarchy, read Peter Camenzind as a fourteen-year-old schoolgirl and wrote, deeply impressed, to Hermann Hesse. This prompted a steady stream of correspondence between the acclaimed, eighteen year older author and the admiring yet also critical reader. In 1913, Ninon went to Vienna, where she initially studied medicine and later switched to art history, archaeology, and philosophy. It was here, too, that she met her first husband, Fred Dolbin, an engineer by profession, who subsequently made a name for himself as a caricaturist. Her studies later took her to Paris and Berlin. The first meeting with Hesse occurred in 1922 in Montagnola. Their relationship began in Zurich in 1926, at a time when both were preparing to leave their respective spouses, Fred Dolbin and Ruth Wenger. Ninon later visited Hesse at Casa Camuzzi in Montagnola, and later moved in with him on a permanent basis. Hesse soon felt a constant need to have her around him, though was loath to admit this.


In 1927, he wrote the following poem:


For Ninon


Daß du bei mir magst weilen, Wo doch mein Leben dunkel ist Und draußen Sterne eilen Und alles voll Gefunkel ist,


Daß du in dem Getriebe Des Lebens eine Mitte weißt, Macht dich und deine Liebe Für mich zum guten Geist.


In meinem Dunkel ahnst du Den so verborgnen Stern. Mit deiner Liebe mahnst du Mich an des Lebens süßen Kern. http://www.hermann-hesse.de/node/907

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Ninon Hesse's Timeline

1895
September 18, 1895
Czernowitz, Ukraine
1931
November 14, 1931
Age 36
1931
Age 35
1966
September 22, 1966
Age 71
Montagnola, Switzerland
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