Kaspar Hauser
Kaspar Hauser was a German youth who claimed to have grown up in the total isolation of a darkened cell. Hauser's claims, and his subsequent death by stabbing, sparked much debate and controversy.

Theories propounded at the time linked him with the princely House of Baden
Grand Duchy of Baden
The Grand Duchy of Baden was a historical state in the southwest of Germany, on the east bank of the Rhine. It existed between 1806 and 1918.-History:...

. These have long since been rejected by professional historians.

First appearance

On 26 May 1828, a teenage boy appeared in the streets of Nuremberg
Nuremberg[p] is a city in the German state of Bavaria, in the administrative region of Middle Franconia. Situated on the Pegnitz river and the Rhine–Main–Danube Canal, it is located about north of Munich and is Franconia's largest city. The population is 505,664...

, Germany. He carried a letter with him addressed to the captain of the 4th squadron
Squadron (cavalry)
A squadron was historically a cavalry sub unit. It is still used to refer to modern cavalry units but can also be used as a designation for other arms and services.-United States:...

 of the 6th cavalry
Cavalry or horsemen were soldiers or warriors who fought mounted on horseback. Cavalry were historically the third oldest and the most mobile of the combat arms...

A regiment is a major tactical military unit, composed of variable numbers of batteries, squadrons or battalions, commanded by a colonel or lieutenant colonel...

, Captain von Wessenig. Its heading read: Von der Bäierischen Gränz / daß Orte ist unbenant / 1828 ("From the Bavarian
Kingdom of Bavaria
The Kingdom of Bavaria was a German state that existed from 1806 to 1918. The Bavarian Elector Maximilian IV Joseph of the House of Wittelsbach became the first King of Bavaria in 1806 as Maximilian I Joseph. The monarchy would remain held by the Wittelsbachs until the kingdom's dissolution in 1918...

 border / The place is unnamed [sic] / 1828"). The anonymous author said that the boy was given into his custody as an infant on 7 October 1812 and that he instructed him in reading, writing and the Christian religion, but never let him "take a single step out of my house". The letter stated that the boy would now like to be a cavalryman "as his father was" and invited the captain either to take him in or to hang him.

There was another short letter enclosed purporting to be from his mother to his prior caretaker. It stated that his name was Kaspar, that he was born on 30 April 1812 and that his father, a cavalryman of the 6th regiment, was dead. In fact this letter was found to have been written by the same hand as the other one (whose line "he writes my handwriting exactly as I do" led later analysts to assume that Kaspar himself wrote both of them.)

A shoemaker named Weickmann took the boy to the house of Captain von Wessenig, where he would repeat only the words "I want to be a cavalryman, as my father was" and "Horse! Horse!" Further demands elicited only tears or the obstinate proclamation of "Don't know." He was taken to a police station, where he would write a name: Kaspar Hauser. He showed that he was familiar with money, could say some prayers and read a little, but he answered few questions and his vocabulary appeared to be rather limited.

He spent the following two months in Vestner Gate Tower in the care of a jailer named Andreas Hiltel. Despite what many later accounts would say, he was in good physical condition and could walk well; for example, he climbed over 90 steps to his room. He was of a "healthy facial complexion" and approximately 16 years old, but appeared to be intellectually impaired. Mayor Binder, however, claimed that the boy had an excellent memory and was learning quickly. Various curious people visited him to his apparent delight. He refused all food except bread and water.

Hauser's story about his life in a dungeon

At first it was assumed that he was raised half-wild
Feral child
A feral child is a human child who has lived isolated from human contact from a very young age, and has no experience of human care, loving or social behavior, and, crucially, of human language...

 in forests, but during many conversations with Mayor Binder, Hauser told a different version of his past life, which he later also wrote down in more detail. According to this story, for as long as he could remember he spent his life totally alone in a darkened cell about two metres long, one metre wide and one and a half high with only a straw bed to sleep on and a horse carved out of wood for a toy.

He claimed that he found bread and water next to his bed each morning. Periodically the water would taste bitter and drinking it would cause him to sleep more heavily than usual. On such occasions, when he awakened, his straw was changed and his hair and nails were cut. Hauser claimed that the first human being with whom he ever had contact was a mysterious man who visited him not long before his release, always taking great care not to reveal his face to him. This man, Hauser said, taught him to write his name by leading his hand. After learning to stand and walk, he was brought to Nuremberg. Furthermore, the stranger allegedly taught him to say the phrase "I want to be a cavalryman, as my father was" (in Bavarian dialect), but Hauser claimed that he did not understand what these words meant.

This tale, still famous today, aroused great curiosity and made Hauser an object of international attention. Rumours arose that he was of princely parentage, possibly of Baden origin, but there were also claims that he was an impostor.

Further life in Nuremberg

Paul Johann Anselm Ritter von Feuerbach
Paul Johann Anselm Ritter von Feuerbach
Paul Johann Anselm Ritter von Feuerbach was a German legal scholar. His major work was a reform of the Bavarian penal code which became a model for several other countries.-Biography:...

, president of the Bavarian court of appeals
Court of Appeals
A court of appeals is an appellate court generally.Court of Appeals may refer to:*Military Court of Appeals *Corte d'Assise d'Appello *Philippine Court of Appeals*High Court of Appeals of Turkey*United States courts of appeals...

, began to investigate the case. Hauser was given into the care of Friedrich Daumer
Georg Friedrich Daumer
Georg Friedrich Daumer was a German poet and philosopher. He was educated at the gymnasium of his native city, at that time directed by the famous philosopher Hegel. In 1817 he entered the University of Erlangen as a student of theology, but abandoned that study for philosophy...

, a schoolmaster and speculative philosopher, who taught him various subjects and who thereby discovered his talent for drawing. He appeared to flourish in this environment. Daumer also subjected him to homeopathic
Homeopathy is a form of alternative medicine in which practitioners claim to treat patients using highly diluted preparations that are believed to cause healthy people to exhibit symptoms that are similar to those exhibited by the patient...

 treatments and magnetic experiments
Animal magnetism
Animal magnetism , in modern usage, refers to a person's sexual attractiveness or raw charisma. As postulated by Franz Mesmer in the 18th century, the term referred to a supposed magnetic fluid or ethereal medium believed to reside in the bodies of animate beings...

. As Feuerbach told the story, "When Professor Daumer held the north pole [of a magnet] towards him, Kaspar put his hand to the pit of his stomach, and, drawing his waistcoat in an outward direction, said that it drew him thus; and that a current of air seemed to proceed from him. The south pole affected him less powerfully; and he said that it blew upon him."

Cut wound

On 17 October 1829, Hauser did not come to the midday meal, but was found in the cellar of Daumer's house bleeding from a cut wound on the forehead. He asserted that while sitting on the privy he was attacked and wounded by a hooded man who also threatened him with the words: "You still have to die ere you leave the city of Nuremberg." Hauser said that by the voice he recognized the man as the one who brought him to Nuremberg. As was obvious from his blood trail, Hauser at first fled to the first floor where his room was, but then, instead of moving on to his caretakers, he returned downstairs and climbed through a trap door into the cellar. Alarmed officials called for a police escort and transferred him to the care of Johann Biberbach, one of the municipal authorities. The alleged attack on Hauser also fueled rumours about his possible descent from the House of Baden. Hauser's critics are of the opinion that he inflicted the wound on himself with a razor, which he then took back to his room before going to the cellar. He might have done so to arouse pity and thus escape chiding for a recent quarrel with Daumer, who had come to believe that the boy had a tendency to lie.

The "pistol accident"

On 3 April 1830, a pistol shot went off in Hauser's room at the Biberbachs' house. His escort hurriedly entered the room and found him bleeding from a wound to the right side of his head. Hauser quickly revived and stated that he climbed on a chair to get some books, the chair fell and while trying to hold on to something he accidentally tore down the pistol hanging on the wall, causing the shot to go off. There are doubts whether the (benign) wound was actually caused by the shot and some authors associate the incident with a preceding quarrel in which, again, Hauser was reproached for lying. Whatever the case, the occurrence led the municipal authorities to come to another decision on Hauser, whose initially good relationship with the Biberbach family had soured. In May 1830, he was transferred to the house of Baron von Tucher, who later also complained about Hauser's exorbitant vanity and lies. Perhaps the sharpest judgement passed on Hauser was the one by Mrs. Biberbach, who commented on his "horrendous mendacity", his "art of dissimulation" and called him "full of vanity and spite".

Lord Stanhope

A British nobleman, Lord Stanhope
Philip Henry Stanhope, 4th Earl Stanhope
Philip Henry Stanhope, 4th Earl Stanhope FRS , was an English aristocrat, chiefly remembered for his role in the Kaspar Hauser case during the 1830s....

, took an interest in Hauser and gained custody of him late in 1831. He spent a great deal of money attempting to clarify Hauser's origin. In particular, he paid for two visits to Hungary, as Hauser seemed to remember some Hungarian words. Stanhope later declared that the complete failure of these inquiries led him to doubt Hauser's credibility. In December 1831, he transferred Hauser to Ansbach
Ansbach, originally Onolzbach, is a town in Bavaria, Germany. It is the capital of the administrative region of Middle Franconia. Ansbach is situated southwest of Nuremberg and north of Munich, on the Fränkische Rezat, a tributary of the Main river. As of 2004, its population was 40,723.Ansbach...

, to the care of a schoolmaster named Johann Georg Meyer, and in January 1832 Stanhope left Hauser for good. Stanhope continued to pay for Hauser's living expenses, but never made good on his promise that he would take him to England. After Hauser's death, Stanhope published a book in which he presented all known evidence against Hauser, taking it as his "duty openly to confess that I had been deceived." Followers of Hauser suspect Stanhope of ulterior motives and connections to the House of Baden, but academic historiography defends him as a philanthropist, a pious man and a seeker of truth.

Life and death in Ansbach

Schoolmaster Meyer, a strict and pedantic man, disliked Hauser's many excuses and apparent lies and their relationship was thus rather strained. In late 1832, Hauser was given employment as a copyist in the local law office. Still hoping that Stanhope would take him to England, he was much dissatisfied with his situation, which deteriorated further when his patron, Anselm von Feuerbach, died in May 1833. This certainly was a grievous loss to him. (Some authors, however, point out that Feuerbach, by the end of his life, apparently stopped believing in Hauser; at least he wrote a note, to be found in his legacy, which read: "Caspar Hauser is a smart scheming codger, a rogue, a good-for-nothing that ought to be killed." But there is no indication that Feuerbach, already seriously ill, let Hauser feel this change of opinion.)

On 9 December 1833, Hauser had a serious argument with Meyer. Lord Stanhope was expected to visit Ansbach at Christmas and Meyer said that he did not know how he would face him.

Fatal stab wound

Five days later, on 14 December 1833, Hauser came home with a deep wound in his left breast. He said that he was lured to the Ansbach Court Garden and that a stranger stabbed him there while giving him a bag. When Policeman Herrlein searched the Court Garden, he found a small violet purse containing a pencilled note in "Spiegelschrift" (mirror writing
Mirror writing
Mirror writing is formed by writing in the direction that is the reverse of the natural way for a given language, such that the result is the mirror image of normal writing: it appears normal when it is reflected in a mirror. It is sometimes used as an extremely primitive form of cipher...

). The message read, in German:
Hauser died of his wound on 17 December 1833.

Inconsistencies in Hauser's account led the Ansbach court of enquiry to suspect that he stabbed himself and invented a tale about being attacked. The note in the purse that was found in the Court Garden contained one spelling error and one grammatical error, both of which were typical for Hauser, who, on his deathbed, kept muttering incoherencies about "writing with pencil". Although he was very eager that the purse be found, he did not ask for its contents. The note itself was folded in a specific triangular form, just the way Hauser used to fold his letters, according to Mrs. Meyer. Forensic doctors agreed that the wound could indeed be self-inflicted. Many authors believe that he wounded himself in a bid to revive public interest in his story and to convince Stanhope to fulfil his promise to take him to England, but that he then stabbed himself more deeply than planned.


Hauser was buried in a country graveyard; his headstone reads, in Latin, "Here lies Kaspar Hauser, riddle of his time. His birth was unknown, his death mysterious." A monument to him was later erected in the Court Garden which reads Hic occultus occulto occisus est: "Here a mysterious one was killed in a mysterious manner."

Medical opinions

Hauser's story of his incarceration includes several contradictions in his various accounts of the story. Psychiatrist Karl Leonhard
Karl Leonhard
Karl Leonhard was a German psychiatrist, who stood in the tradition of Carl Wernicke and Karl Kleist. He created a complex classification of psychotic illnesses called nosological.His work covered Psychology, Psychotherapy, Biological psychiatry and Biological psychology...

 concluded: "If he had been living since childhood under the conditions he describes, he would not have developed beyond the condition of an idiot; indeed he would not have remained alive long. His tale is so full of absurdities that it is astonishing that it was ever believed and is even today still believed by many people."

Dr. Heidenreich, one of the physicians present at the autopsy, claimed that the brain of Kaspar Hauser was notable for small cortical size and few, non-distinct cortical gyri, indicating to some that he suffered from cortical atrophy or, as G. Hesse argued, from epilepsy
Epilepsy is a common chronic neurological disorder characterized by seizures. These seizures are transient signs and/or symptoms of abnormal, excessive or hypersynchronous neuronal activity in the brain.About 50 million people worldwide have epilepsy, and nearly two out of every three new cases...

. Heidenreich may have been influenced by his phrenological
Phrenology is a pseudoscience primarily focused on measurements of the human skull, based on the concept that the brain is the organ of the mind, and that certain brain areas have localized, specific functions or modules...

 ideas when examining Hauser's brain. Dr. Albert, who conducted the autopsy and wrote the official report, did not find any anomalies in Hauser's brain.

Karl Leonhard also rejected the views of both Heidenreich and Hesse. He came to the following conclusion: "Kaspar Hauser was, as other authors already opined, a pathological swindler. In addition to his hysterical make-up he probably had the persistence of a paranoid personality since he was able to play his role so imperturbably. From many reports on his behaviour one can recognise the hysterical as well as the paranoid trend of his personality."

A 1928 medical study supported the view that Hauser accidentally stabbed himself too deeply, while a 2005 forensic analysis argued that it seems "unlikely that the stab to the chest was inflicted exclusively for the purpose of self-damage, but both a suicidal stab and a homicidal act (assassination) cannot be definitely ruled out."

Hauser as hereditary "Prince of Baden"

According to contemporary rumours, probably current as early as 1829, Kaspar Hauser was the hereditary prince of Baden who was born 29 September 1812, and who, according to known history, died 16 October 1812. It was alleged that this prince was switched with a dying baby and subsequently surfaced 16 years later as Kaspar Hauser in Nuremberg. In this case, his parents would have been Charles, Grand Duke of Baden and Stéphanie de Beauharnais
Stéphanie de Beauharnais
Stéphanie, Grand Duchess of Baden was the consort of Karl, Grand Duke of Baden.-Biography:...

, cousin by marriage and adopted daughter of Napoleon. Because Charles had no surviving male progeny, his successor was his uncle Louis, who was later succeeded by his half-brother, Leopold. Leopold's mother, the Countess of Hochberg
Louise Caroline of Hochberg
Louise Caroline of Hochberg, born Baroness Geyer of Geyersberg, from 1787 Baroness of Hochberg, from 1796 Countess of Hochberg was the morganatic second wife of the Margrave and later Grand Duke Charles Frederick of Baden.- Origin :Louise Caroline Geyer Geyer of Geyersberg was the daughter...

, was the alleged culprit of the boy's captivity. The Countess was supposed to have disguised herself as a ghost, the "White Lady", when kidnapping the prince. Her motive evidently would have been to secure the succession for her sons.

After Hauser's death, it was claimed further that he was murdered, again because of his being the prince.

Repudiation in the 1870s

In 1876, Otto Mittelstädt presented evidence against this theory based on the official documents about the prince's emergency baptism, autopsy and burial. Andrew Lang
Andrew Lang
Andrew Lang was a Scots poet, novelist, literary critic, and contributor to the field of anthropology. He is best known as a collector of folk and fairy tales. The Andrew Lang lectures at the University of St Andrews are named after him.- Biography :Lang was born in Selkirk...

 summarizes the results in his Historical Mysteries: "It is true that the Grand Duchess was too ill to be permitted to see her dead baby, in 1812, but the baby's father, grandmother, and aunt, with the ten Court physicians, the nurses and others, must have seen it, in death, and it is too absurd to suppose, on no authority, that they were all parties to the White Lady's plot." Historian Fritz Trautz went so far to write: "The silly fairytale, which to this day moves many pens and has found much belief, was fully disproved in Otto Mittelstädt's book." Furthermore, letters of the Grand Duke's mother, published in 1951, give detailed accounts of the child's birth, illness and death, strongly corroborating the evidence against the alleged switch of babies.

Differing DNA analyses

In November 1996, the German magazine Der Spiegel
Der Spiegel
Der Spiegel is a German weekly news magazine published in Hamburg. It is one of Europe's largest publications of its kind, with a weekly circulation of more than one million.-Overview:...

 reported an attempt to match genetically a blood sample from underpants assumed to have been Kaspar Hauser's. This analysis was made in laboratories of Forensic Science Service
Forensic Science Service
The Forensic Science Service is a government-owned company in the United Kingdom which provides forensic science services to the police forces and government agencies of England and Wales, as well as other countries.-History:...

 in Birmingham
Birmingham is a city and metropolitan borough in the West Midlands of England. It is the most populous British city outside the capital London, with a population of 1,036,900 , and lies at the heart of the West Midlands conurbation, the second most populous urban area in the United Kingdom with a...

 and in the LMU Institute of Legal Medicine at the University of Munich. Comparisons with descendants of the princely family proved that the blood examined could not possibly stem from the hereditary prince of Baden.

In 2002, the Institute for Forensic Medicine of the University of Münster
University of Münster
The University of Münster is a public university located in the city of Münster, North Rhine-Westphalia in Germany. The WWU is part of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, a society of Germany's leading research universities...

 analyzed hair and body cells from locks of hair and items of clothing that also belonged to Kaspar Hauser. The analysts took from the items used in the test six different DNA samples, all of which turned out to be identical, but they differed substantially from the blood sample examined in 1996, the authenticity of which was therefore questioned. The new DNA samples were compared to a DNA segment from Astrid von Medinger, a descendant in the female line of the hereditary prince's mother, Stéphanie de Beauharnais
Stéphanie de Beauharnais
Stéphanie, Grand Duchess of Baden was the consort of Karl, Grand Duke of Baden.-Biography:...

. The sequences were not identical but the deviation observed is not large enough to exclude a relationship as the difference could be caused by a mutation. (The mitochondrial DNA
Mitochondrial DNA
Mitochondrial DNA is the DNA located in organelles called mitochondria, structures within eukaryotic cells that convert the chemical energy from food into a form that cells can use, adenosine triphosphate...

 which was examined is passed only through the female line and thus cannot change except through mutation.) On the other hand, the relatively high similarity by no means proves the alleged relationship, as the "Hauser samples" showed a pattern that is common among the German population.

The House of Baden does not allow any medical examination of the remains of Stéphanie de Beauharnais or of the child that was buried as her son in the family vault at the Pforzheimer Schlosskirche
Pforzheim is a town of nearly 119,000 inhabitants in the state of Baden-Württemberg, southwest Germany at the gate to the Black Forest. It is world-famous for its jewelry and watch-making industry. Until 1565 it was the home to the Margraves of Baden. Because of that it gained the nickname...


Cultural references

Kaspar Hauser fits into the contemporary European image of the "wolf child
Feral child
A feral child is a human child who has lived isolated from human contact from a very young age, and has no experience of human care, loving or social behavior, and, crucially, of human language...

" (despite the fact that he almost certainly was not one), and he became possibly the best-known example of the genre. As a result, his story inspired numerous works.


Kaspar Hauser inspired the French
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

 poet Paul Verlaine
Paul Verlaine
Paul-Marie Verlaine was a French poet associated with the Symbolist movement. He is considered one of the greatest representatives of the fin de siècle in international and French poetry.-Early life:...

 to write the poem "Gaspard Hauser chante", published in his book Sagesse
Sagesse is a volume of French poetry by Paul Verlaine. First published in 1880 , it was important in the symbolist and modernist movements. The subject matter of these poems deals with themes relating to maturing....

 (1880). Kaspar Hauser is also referred to in Herman Melville
Herman Melville
Herman Melville was an American novelist, short story writer, essayist, and poet. He is best known for his novel Moby-Dick and the posthumous novella Billy Budd....

's unfinished novella Billy Budd
Billy Budd
Billy Budd is a short novel by Herman Melville.Billy Budd can also refer to:*Billy Budd , a 1962 film produced, directed, and co-written by Peter Ustinov, based on Melville's novel...

 (begun in 1886), as well as in his novels, both Pierre
Pierre is a masculine given name. It is a French form of the name Peter . Pierre originally means "rock" or "stone" in French...

; or, The Ambiguities and The Confidence-Man
The Confidence-Man
The Confidence-Man: His Masquerade was the last major novel by Herman Melville, the American writer and author of Moby-Dick. Published on April 1, 1857 , The Confidence-Man was Melville's tenth major work in eleven years...

. He is also referenced in the Hans Christian Andersen
Hans Christian Andersen
Hans Christian Andersen was a Danish author, fairy tale writer, and poet noted for his children's stories. These include "The Steadfast Tin Soldier," "The Snow Queen," "The Little Mermaid," "Thumbelina," "The Little Match Girl," and "The Ugly Duckling."...

 story "Beauty of Form and Beauty of Mind" or "Beautiful".

Perhaps the most influential fictional treatment of Kasper Hauser was Jakob Wassermann
Jakob Wassermann
Jakob Wassermann was a Jewish-German writer and novelist.- Life :Born in Fürth, Wassermann was the son of a shopkeeper and lost his mother at an early age. He showed literary interest early and published various pieces in small newspapers...

's 1908 novel Caspar Hauser oder Die Trägheit des Herzens ("Caspar Hauser or the Inertia of the Heart"), which was largely responsible for its popularization in Germany.

In the mid-20th century, Kaspar Hauser was referred to in several works of science fiction or fantasy literature: Eric Frank Russell
Eric Frank Russell
Eric Frank Russell was a British author best known for his science fiction novels and short stories. Much of his work was first published in the United States, in John W. Campbell's Astounding Science Fiction and other pulp magazines. Russell also wrote horror fiction for Weird Tales, and...

, in his 1943 novel Sinister Barrier
Sinister Barrier
Sinister Barrier is an English language science fiction novel by author Eric Frank Russell. The novel originally appeared in the magazine Unknown in 1939, the first novel to appear in its pages. It was first published in book form in 1943 by The World's Work, Ltd. Russell revised and expanded the...

, described Kaspar Hauser as a person who originated from a non-human laboratory. Fredric Brown
Fredric Brown
Fredric Brown was an American science fiction and mystery writer. He was born in Cincinnati.He had two sons: James Ross Brown and Linn Lewis Brown ....

, in his 1949 short story Come and Go Mad, offered another theory about "Casper Hauser". Henry Kuttner
Henry Kuttner
Henry Kuttner was an American author of science fiction, fantasy and horror.-Early life:Henry Kuttner was born in Los Angeles, California in 1915...

, in his 1954 "The Portal in the Picture", where he suggests Hauser is from Malesco – a parallel world where science is treated as a religion and its secrets are hidden from the ordinary citizen. Robert A. Heinlein
Robert A. Heinlein
Robert Anson Heinlein was an American science fiction writer. Often called the "dean of science fiction writers", he was one of the most influential and controversial authors of the genre. He set a standard for science and engineering plausibility and helped to raise the genre's standards of...

, in his 1963 Glory Road
Glory Road
Glory Road is a fantasy novel by Robert A. Heinlein, originally serialized in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction and published in hardcover later the same year...

, referred to "Kaspar Hausers" as an analogue to persons popping in and out of metaphysical planes. Harlan Ellison
Harlan Ellison
Harlan Jay Ellison is an American writer. His principal genre is speculative fiction.His published works include over 1,700 short stories, novellas, screenplays, teleplays, essays, a wide range of criticism covering literature, film, television, and print media...

, in his 1967 story "The Prowler in the City at the Edge of the World
The Prowler in the City at the Edge of the World
"The Prowler in the City at the Edge of the World", is a short story from Harlan Ellison's 1967 anthology, Dangerous Visions, in which he presents a collection of several different views of science fiction and fantasy, through 34 authors...

", suggested that Hauser had been plucked out of time and later murdered by a female sadist named Juliette.

In 1963, Marianne Hauser gave a fictional account of Kaspar Hauser's life in her novel Prince Ishmael.

In 1967, the Austrian playwright Peter Handke
Peter Handke
Peter Handke is an avant-garde Austrian novelist and playwright.-Early life:Handke and his mother lived in the Soviet-occupied Pankow district of Berlin from 1944 to 1948 before resettling in Griffen...

 published his play Kaspar.

Paul Auster
Paul Auster
Paul Benjamin Auster is an American author known for works blending absurdism, existentialism, crime fiction and the search for identity and personal meaning in works such as The New York Trilogy , Moon Palace , The Music of Chance , The Book of Illusions and The Brooklyn Follies...

, in his 1985 novel City of Glass, compares the situation of one of its character to Kaspar Hauser.

In 1994 the English poet David Constantine
David Constantine
David Constantine is a British poet and translator.Constantine is a Fellow of Queen's College, Oxford University, and a graduate of Wadham College, Oxford. He is co-editor of the literary journal Modern Poetry in Translation...

 explored the story and its personae in Caspar Hauser: A Poem in Nine Cantos.

Kaspar Hauser is also referred to in Katharine Neville's novel The Magic Circle
The Magic Circle
The Magic Circle is a British organisation, founded in London in 1905, dedicated to promoting and advancing the art of magic.- History :The Magic Circle was founded in 1905 after a meeting of 23 amateur and professional magicians at London's Pinoli's Restaurant...

 (1998), in Steven Millhauser
Steven Millhauser
Steven Millhauser is an American novelist and short story writer. He won the 1997 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for his novel Martin Dressler. The prize brought many of his older books back into print.-Life and career:...

's short story Kaspar Hauser Speaks (published in The Knife Thrower and Other Stories
The Knife Thrower and Other Stories
The Knife Thrower and Other Stories by Steven Millhauser, first published in 1998 by Crown Publishers, Inc., New York. It is a collection of short stories, some of which were published by various journals, such as The Paris Review, Harper's Magazine, and The New Yorker...

, 1998), Jeffrey Eugenides
Jeffrey Eugenides
Jeffrey Kent Eugenides is an American Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist and short story writer. Eugenides is most known for his first two novels, The Virgin Suicides and Middlesex . His novel The Marriage Plot was published in October, 2011.-Life and career:Eugenides was born in Detroit, Michigan,...

's novel Middlesex
Middlesex (novel)
Middlesex is a Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Jeffrey Eugenides published in 2002. The book is a bestseller, with more than three million copies sold as of May 2011. Its characters and events are loosely based on aspects of Eugenides' life and observations of his Greek heritage. It is...

 (2002), Maggie Nelson
Maggie Nelson
Maggie Nelson is an American poet, art critic, lyric essayist and nonfiction author of books such as Women, the New York School, and Other True Abstractions, The Red Parts: A Memoir, The Art of Cruelty, Something Bright, Then Holes, Jane: A Murder, The Latest Winter, Shiner, and Bluets.Nelson has...

's poem "Kaspar Hauser" (2003, itself a probable reference to the Herzog film), and Lucie Brock-Broido
Lucie Brock-Broido
Lucie Brock-Broido is the author of three collections of poetry. She has received many honors, including the Witter-Bynner prize of Poetry from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Harvard Phi Beta Kappa Teaching Award, the Harvard-Danforth Award for Distinction in Teaching, the Jerome J...

's poem "Self-Portrait as Kaspar Hauser" (published in Trouble in Mind, 2004). Canadian artist Diane Obomsawin tells the story of Kaspar Hauser in her 2007 graphic novel Kaspar.

Kaspar Hauser serves as the namesake and inspiration for a character in Dan Abnett
Dan Abnett
Dan Abnett is a British comic book writer and novelist. He is a frequent collaborator with fellow writer Andy Lanning, and is known for his work on books for both Marvel Comics, and their UK imprint, Marvel UK, since the 1990s, including 2000 AD...

's novel Prospero Burns, in which the protagonist Kasper Hawser shares a similar mysterious origin and childhood as attributed to Hauser, including his only toy being a wooden horse.

Film and television

In 1974, the German filmmaker Werner Herzog
Werner Herzog
Werner Herzog Stipetić , known as Werner Herzog, is a German film director, producer, screenwriter, actor, and opera director.He is often considered as one of the greatest figures of the New German Cinema, along with Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Margarethe von Trotta, Volker Schlöndorff, Werner...

 made Hauser's story into the film, Jeder für sich und Gott gegen alle
The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser
The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser is a 1974 West German drama film written and directed by Werner Herzog about the legend of Kaspar Hauser. Its original German title is Jeder für sich und Gott gegen alle, which means "Every man for himself and God against them all"...

 ("Every Man for Himself and God Against All"). In English, the film was either known by that translation, or by the title The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser.

In 1993, the German
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

Austria , officially the Republic of Austria , is a landlocked country of roughly 8.4 million people in Central Europe. It is bordered by the Czech Republic and Germany to the north, Slovakia and Hungary to the east, Slovenia and Italy to the south, and Switzerland and Liechtenstein to the...

n co-production Kaspar Hauser – Verbrechen am Seelenleben eines Menschen ("Kaspar Hauser – Crimes against a man's soul"), directed by Peter Sehr, espoused the "Prince of Baden" theory.

In the 1966 film Fahrenheit 451
Fahrenheit 451 (1966 film)
Fahrenheit 451 is a 1966 film directed by François Truffaut, in his first colour film as well as his only English-language film. It is based on the novel of the same name by Ray Bradbury....

, the protagonist Guy Montag
Guy Montag
Guy Montag is the protagonist in Ray Bradbury's dystopian 1953 novel Fahrenheit 451. He is depicted living in a futuristic town where he works as a fireman whose job is to burn books.-Montag's role in the storyline:...

 discreetly puts a copy of a book entitled Gaspard Hauser into his bag before the rest of the books in that residence are torched.

In the TV series Smallville
Smallville (TV series)
Smallville is an American television series developed by writers/producers Alfred Gough and Miles Millar based on the DC Comics character Superman, originally created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster. The television series was initially broadcast by The WB Television Network , premiering on October...

, in the episode "Stray"
Smallville (season 1)
Season one of Smallville, an American television series developed by Alfred Gough and Miles Millar, began airing on October 16, 2001, on The WB television network. The series recounts the early adventures of Kryptonian Clark Kent as he adjusts to his developing superpowers in the fictional town of...

 (2002) Clark Kent
Clark Kent
Clark Kent is a fictional character created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster. Appearing regularly in stories published by DC Comics, he debuted in Action Comics #1 and serves as the civilian and secret identity of the superhero Superman....

 finds a boy who does not remember who he was or where he came from, except his name. Chloe refers to the boy as a "modern-day Kasper Hauser".

In the Japanese horror movie Marebito (2004), the protagonist Masuoka refers to a girl he found chained up underground as his "little Kaspar Hauser".


Kaspar Hauser's story has inspired numerous musical references. There have been at least two operas named Kasper Hauser, a 2007 work by American composer Elizabeth Swados
Elizabeth Swados
Elizabeth Swados is an American writer, composer, musician, and theatre director. While some of her subject matter is humorous, such as her satirical look at Ronald Reagan, Rap Master Ronnie, and Doonesbury - both collaborations with Garry Trudeau - much of her work deals with dark issues such as...

 and a 2010 work by British composer Rory Boyle.

Subterranea may refer to:*Subterranea , album by the band IQ*Subterranea , fictional underground land of the Mole Man in Marvel Comics*Subterranea , game for the Atari 2600 published by Imagic...

, a 1997 concept album by British progressive rock
Progressive rock
Progressive rock is a subgenre of rock music that developed in the late 1960s and early 1970s as part of a "mostly British attempt to elevate rock music to new levels of artistic credibility." John Covach, in Contemporary Music Review, says that many thought it would not just "succeed the pop of...

 band IQ
IQ (band)
IQ are a British neo-progressive rock band founded by Mike Holmes and Martin Orford in 1981 following the dissolution of their original band The Lens...

 (1997), was loosely inspired by Hauser's story. Italian artists Reinhold Giovanett and Josef Oberhollenzer put out a CD titled Kaspar Hauser in 1999.

Numerous bands and musicians have released songs titled "Kaspar Hauser", including the German
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

 band Dschinghis Khan
Dschinghis Khan
Dschinghis Khan was a West German pop band, created in 1979 to compete in the Eurovision Song Contest. The name of the band was chosen to fit the song of the same name, written and produced by Ralph Siegel with lyrics by Bernd Meinunger....

, the Detroit band Trial
Trial (band)
Trial is an American political straight edge hardcore punk band based in Seattle, Washington. The band was active from 1995 until 2000. They reunited for three reunion shows in Seattle, London, and Budapest in the fall of 2005, and recently were part of the Burning Fight Book Release show in...

, and the Sun City Girls
Sun City Girls
The Sun City Girls were an American experimental rock band, formed in 1979 in Phoenix, Arizona. From 1981 the group consisted of Alan Bishop , his brother Richard Bishop , and the late Charles Gocher . Their name was inspired by Sun City, Arizona, an Arizona retirement community...

. Colonian
Cologne is Germany's fourth-largest city , and is the largest city both in the Germany Federal State of North Rhine-Westphalia and within the Rhine-Ruhr Metropolitan Area, one of the major European metropolitan areas with more than ten million inhabitants.Cologne is located on both sides of the...

-dialect rock band BAP
BAP (German band)
Bap is a German rock group. With ten albums reaching the number one in the German record charts, Bap is one of the most successful rock acts in their home country....

 and German singer-songwriter Reinhard Mey
Reinhard Mey
Reinhard Friedrich Michael Mey is a German singer-songwriter, known to fans as "Liedermacher". In France he is known as Frédérik Mey....

 have released songs called "Kaspar". French singer-songwriter Georges Moustaki
Georges Moustaki
Giuseppe Mustacchi, known as Georges Moustaki , is a French singer and songwriter of Italo-Greek Jewish origin, best known for his poetic rhythm, eloquent simplicity and his hundreds of romantic songs...

 put out a song titled "Gaspard", based on Paul Verlaine
Paul Verlaine
Paul-Marie Verlaine was a French poet associated with the Symbolist movement. He is considered one of the greatest representatives of the fin de siècle in international and French poetry.-Early life:...

's poem. Suzanne Vega
Suzanne Vega
Suzanne Nadine Vega is an American songwriter and singer known for her eclectic folk-inspired music.Two of Vega's songs reached the top 10 of various international chart listings: "Luka" and "Tom's Diner"...

"Wooden Horse (Caspar Hauser's Song)" on her 1987 album Solitude Standing
Solitude Standing
Solitude Standing is Suzanne Vega's platinum second album, released in 1987. It is the most popular and critically acclaimed of her career. As can be seen by the CD insert, many of the songs had been written prior to 1987 ....


Kaspar Hauser was taken as the name of an alternative rock
Alternative rock
Alternative rock is a genre of rock music and a term used to describe a diverse musical movement that emerged from the independent music underground of the 1980s and became widely popular by the 1990s...

 band based in Amherst, Massachusetts
Amherst, Massachusetts
Amherst is a town in Hampshire County, Massachusetts, United States in the Connecticut River valley. As of the 2010 census, the population was 37,819, making it the largest community in Hampshire County . The town is home to Amherst College, Hampshire College, and the University of Massachusetts...

 in the early 1980s, as well as an experimental musician from Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, England. A band from from Belfast, Northern Ireland named itself Hauser.


Anthroposophy, a philosophy founded by Rudolf Steiner, postulates the existence of an objective, intellectually comprehensible spiritual world accessible to direct experience through inner development...

 have written several books on Kaspar Hauser. One in particular, a detailed work by Peter Tradowsky, addresses the mysteries surrounding Kaspar Hauser's life from the anthroposophical point of view. His analysis delves into the occult significance of the individuality he sees as incarnated in Kaspar Hauser. In 1996 Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson
Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson
Dr. Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson is an American author, residing in New Zealand. Masson is best known for his conclusions about Sigmund Freud and psychoanalysis...

 wrote Lost Prince: The Unsolved Mystery of Kaspar Hauser (1996).

There was also a January 1861 Atlantic Monthly article which included an unsigned article on Caspar Hauser. This was circulated among the American intellectual establishment of the time. It provides a sense of perspective on many of the issues firing the debate about "Who was Kaspar Hauser?" which continues to this day.

Medical writers have referred to Psychosocial short stature as the eponymous Kaspar Hauser syndrome. In modern times this custom of naming diseases after persons is falling out of favor and so such names are now more a curiosity than a diagnostic nomenclature.

Further reading

  • Anselm von Feuerbach
    Paul Johann Anselm Ritter von Feuerbach
    Paul Johann Anselm Ritter von Feuerbach was a German legal scholar. His major work was a reform of the Bavarian penal code which became a model for several other countries.-Biography:...

    : Caspar Hauser, Boston 1832
  • Philip Henry Earl Stanhope
    Philip Henry Stanhope, 4th Earl Stanhope
    Philip Henry Stanhope, 4th Earl Stanhope FRS , was an English aristocrat, chiefly remembered for his role in the Kaspar Hauser case during the 1830s....

    : Tracts Relating to Caspar Hauser, Hodson 1836
  • M. G. Valbert (Victor Cherbuliez
    Victor Cherbuliez
    thumb|right|Victor CherbuliezCharles Victor Cherbuliez was a French novelist and author. He was the eleventh member elected to occupy seat 3 of the Académie française in 1881.-Biography:...

    ): The History of a Delusion, Popular Science Monthly
    Popular Science
    Popular Science is an American monthly magazine founded in 1872 carrying articles for the general reader on science and technology subjects. Popular Science has won over 58 awards, including the ASME awards for its journalistic excellence in both 2003 and 2004...

    , Volume 30, April 1887, pp. 733–743
  • Catherine Lucy Wilhelmina (Stanhope) Powlett, Duchess of Cleveland: The True Story of Kaspar Hauser from Official Documents, Macmillan, London, 1893
  • Andrew Lang
    Andrew Lang
    Andrew Lang was a Scots poet, novelist, literary critic, and contributor to the field of anthropology. He is best known as a collector of folk and fairy tales. The Andrew Lang lectures at the University of St Andrews are named after him.- Biography :Lang was born in Selkirk...

    : The Mystery of Kaspar Hauser (in: Historical Mysteries, 1905) Ivo Striedinger: Hauser Kaspar, der „rätselhafte Findling“, in: Lebensläufe aus Franken, III. vol., 1927, pp. 199–215 Ivo Striedinger: Neues Schrifttum über Kaspar Hauser, in: Zeitschrift für bayerische Landesgeschichte, 6. Vol. 1933, pp. 415–484 Jean Mistler
    Jean Mistler
    Jean Mistler was a French writer born in Sorèze, Tarn. In 1966 he was elected to the Académie Française.Mistler, whose father's family had left Alsace in 1871, did his schooling in Sorèze, before preparing for the entrance examination of the Ecole Nationale Supérieure at the Lycée Henri IV, where...

    : Gaspard Hauser, un drame de la personnalité, Fayard 1971 ISBN 978-2213593616 Fritz Trautz: Zum Problem der Persönlichkeitsdeutung: Anläßlich das Kaspar-Hauser-Buches von Jean Mistler, in: Francia 2, 1974, pp. 715–731
  • Martin Kitchen
    Martin Kitchen
    Martin Kitchen is a British-Canadian historian, specialized in modern European history, with an emphasis on Germany. Professor Emeritus of history at Simon Fraser University, he started teaching in 1966...

    : Kaspar Hauser: Europe's Child, Palgrave MacMillan 2001 ISBN 0-333-96214-1
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