Paul Heyse (1830-1914), son of a professor of philology, experienced an educated middle-class atmosphere, which was intensified by a high school education and by his friendship with the older poet Emanuel Geibel (1815-1884); his contact with the Berlin Jewish Salon, to which Heyse's mother had family connections, also influenced him. In 1847-51, Heyse studied classical philology, art history and Romance languages and literature in Berlin and Bonn and he joined the literary Sunday circle "Tunnel über der Spree". Around 1850, his reputation with publishers had become so strong that he was able to launch other poets such as Theodor Fontane (1819-1898) and Theodor Storm (1817-1888).
After briefly participating in the 1848 Revolution and earning a doctorate on troubadour poetry at Berlin University, Heyse undertook an educational trip to Italy in 1852/53 to study Provencal poetry. In May 1854, the Bavarian King Max II (1811-1864) invited him to Munich on Geibel’s recommendation. "Without further duties than those of participating in the convivial gatherings of the king", Heyse compiled literary lists at the king’s request. He became a member of the "Münchner Dichterkreis" (Munich Poets' Association) and, in 1854, founded "Die Krokodile" (member nickname: "Eidechs") based on his early days in Berlin. In the same year he married the daughter of his mentor, Margaretha Kugler (1834-1862), and composed the most famous of his 150 novels, "L'Arrabiata".
Heyse followed the contemporary literary events with great attention. Through his critical essays and reviews for the Literaturblatt of the Deutsches Kunstblatt, he tried to bring many a writer who was not yet appreciated to the attention of a broader public.
Heyse remained in the service of the king until 1868; after Geibel’s dismissal by the Wagner admirer Ludwig II (1845-1886), he also submitted his application for resignation. From then on, he spent the winter months in Italy in his villa on Lake Garda.
In 1871, Heyse was accepted into the circle of knights of the Bavarian Maximiliansorden für Wissenschaft und Kunst. In 1884, he was awarded the Schiller Prize. In 1910, Heyse - after the German historian Theodor Mommsen (1817-1903) and the philosopher Rudolf Eucken (1846-1926) - was the first German poet to receive the Nobel Prize for Literature for his life's achievement. At the same time, the city of Munich appointed him an honorary citizen on the occasion of his 80th birthday.