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Theodor Fontane (1819-98)
Theodor Fontane (1819-98), son of French Huguenot parents whose ancestors fled to Germany to escape religious persecution, grew up on the Baltic coast and near Berlin; briefly employed as a pharmacist in Leipzig, he then wrote ballads, journalism, history and travel books. As an attaché at the Prussian embassy, from 1852-9 he lived with his wife and two sons in London (in St Augustine's Road, NW1 where there is a blue plaque), writing books and theatre reviews. In the 1860s he was a journalist and, as a war correspondent, was for a few months imprisoned as a suspected spy. In 1878 his first novel came out: this was historical and inspired by Walter Scott and Thackeray. It was followed by a series of contemporary novels which established his reputation as the leading exponent of German realism; several focused on problems of love and marriage, while later books portrayed the changes in Prussian society.Effi Briest, his best known novel, appeared in 1895.