The german writer Annette Kolb

Annette Kolb Image Courtesy of Monacensia Literaturarchiv und Bibliothek München Rainer Maria Rilke wanted to send her “all the flowers I can lay my eyes on“, Erich Kästner described her as “Munich’s first lady” and for her publisher, Gottfired Bermann Fischer, she soared “like a monument out of the chaos of the times”: Annette Kolb.

Born Anna Mathilde Kolb in Munich on 3 February 1870, her parents were Munich landscape architect Max Kolb and French pianist Sophie Danvin. Her life was deeply influenced by her German–French heritage; she campaigned for Franco-German relations, and her anti-war commitment led to the Bavarian Ministry of War imposing a travel ban on her in 1916 because of her “pacifist activities”. She emigrated to Paris in 1933 and to New York in 1941. Her books were banned by the Nazis.

Her first novel, Das Exemplar (“The Specimen”), was awarded the Fontane Prize in 1913. Set in 1909, the story’s protagonist, Mariclée, travels to England to meet a man – the specimen – but misses him by a day. She decides to wait for him, spending the time in London, elsewhere in England, and in Ireland. She eventually catches up with him on a passenger ship, accompanied by his wife and mother-in-law.

The description of Mariclée’s two weeks in Ireland is only a small part of the novel, but it is important in terms of understanding the plot and its progression, for Ireland makes a deep impression on Mariclée: “Outside, a strange, new and wondrous landscape passed her by, a wild and mysterious place whose spirit unsettled her,” the narrator tells us. Kolb herself had been to Ireland several times, as her sister Germaine lived in Cork with her Irish husband, William Stockley. Kolb’s novel enjoyed considerable success and had a significant influence on the German image of Ireland at the time.
Annette Kolb died in Munich on 3 December 1967, just two months short of her 98th birthday.

Ralf Sotscheck

Visitor Information

Access by foot via "skew" bridge or by car via Silversprings fly-over (limited parking).

Millennium Park Gardens
Co. Cork