Johannes Ewald (18 November 1743 – 17 March 1781) was a Danish national dramatist and poet. Ewald, normally regarded as the most important Danish poet of the 2nd half of the 18th Century, led a short and troubled life, marked by alcoholism and poor health. The son of a Copenhagen pietist vicar and fatherless from an early age, he was educated as a theologian, but his real interest was in literature. An unhappy love for a girl, Arendse, inspired his later poetry deeply (his description of this love is the first “modern” Danish poetic treatment of the subject). After a time as a soldier and war hero in the Prussian Seven Years’ War he was 1760 brought back seriously weakened. The following years were spent living as a bohemian and writing poetry in Copenhagen; they were also a time of alcoholism and conflicts with his mother and stepfather (for most of his life he was under their tutelage and he never took up a profession). His lifestyle had much in common with his contemporary Johan Herman Wessel, but, as writers they differed greatly. From 1773-75 he had a rather happy convalescence at Rungstedlund (later the home of Karen Blixen). Ewald wrote some of his best verses during this time, but a conflict with his family led to his removal to the small North Zealand town of Humlebæk (1775-77), which depressed him and worsened his alcoholism. Finally, friends brought him to Søbækshus, near Helsingør, and where he lived for some years under growing public interest and literary..
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