HEINRICH VON KLEIST was born in 1777 in Frankfurt, Germany, to a Prussian military family. He was placed into military service at fifteen, fought against the French, and resigned his commission at twenty-one. Unable to obtain a civil service job, he established one of Germany’s first daily newspapers, which failed, and he traveled extensively through a Europe engulfed by the Napoleonic Wars. He was hospitalized for several mysterious illnesses, including surgery for an indeterminate sexual problem that led him to break off a marital engagement. Throughout, he wrote revolutionary plays and stories, such as Penthesilea and The Marquise of O—, embracing realism and rejecting the ideals of eminent German humanists such as Goethe. As part of a suicide pact, Kleist shot dead a terminally-ill friend, then himself, In 1811.