Karl Friedrich May

(The years 1875–1912)

Karl Friedrich May

Karl Friedrich May


Monochrom print

Year

Biographic Notes

Residence

1875

May's novel Die Rose von Ernstthal published from November 1874 by Hermann Oeser in Neusalza, could have been the reason for publisher H. G. Münchmeyer to visit May, whom he he had known since the 1860's. His editor Otto Freitag quit after an argument; Münchmeyer needed urgently a replacement.
   8th March: May moves as "Editor" to Dresden-Altstadt; lives in Jagdweg, where the publishing firm is situated. There he is editing a family journal "Der Beobachter an der Elbe". Münchmeyer always calls May in front of his employees "Doctor". This title which May later kept using, has not changed anything on the fact that on the 24th March he was evicted from Dresden. May, who for a good one year yet was under Police supervision, was not allowed to leave Hohenstein and Ernstthal without permission!
   May continues to edit the Münchmeyer's "Beobachter" from Ernstthal. There appears from the end of May his novel Wanda. Further he prepared for his publisher major parts of the Buch der Liebe, a follow up of the notorious "Venustempel" (A story of Prostitution and its Origin), which was prohibited since December 1874 in Austria and later also in the German Reich.
   At the beginning of August May returns to Dresden; an authorization for his stay there was approved. In the meantime he travels, among other places to Essen, Dortmund and Berlin, to get subscribers at the firm Krupp and Borsig for his newly founded journal for workers Schacht und Hütte. From September May starts instead of the "Beobachter" and concurrently runs with the Schacht und Hütte a popular magazine Deutsches Familienblatt. From the middle of October appears May's first Winnetou story Old Firehand. More stories from this time: Der Gitano, Inn-nu-woh, Ein Stücklein vom alten Dessauer, Die Fastnachtsnarren, Geographische Predigten.
   May's relationship to his publisher is familiar. For X-mas he was presented with a piano from Münchmeyer's wife.

Ernstthal,
Marktplatz 185

Jagdweg 6

Ernstthal,
Marktplatz 185

Dresden-Altstadt,
Falkenstr. 4,
Emma Ros. Vogel, widow.

Dresden-Altstadt,
Jagdweg 14

1876

As from the beginning of September 1875 Karl May lives at Muenchmeyer's residence. Minna Ey, sister of Pauline Münchmeyer, takes care of May's private quarters. She should become May's fiance; however the up and coming succesful author shows not the least interest. 23rd February: House search at H. G. Münchmeyer. The Police investigate because of unauthorized selling of the "Venustempel" and the Buch der Liebe. 2nd May: With this day finishes May's two years of Police supervision. At the beginning of August May cancelled continuation of a novel 'Fürst und Junker', written by Friedrich Axmann:

To the readers of "deutschen Familienblattes", who wish to acquaint themselves with the later fate of Dietrich von Quitzow until his death, the news should not come unwelcome, because the author of this topic will start on the contrary an even more fascinating and equaly moving novel: "Dietrichs von Quitzow last Journeys", which will appear in Number 20 of the current "Feierstunden am häuslichen Heerde", one in the Münchmeyer Publishing Firm appearing literary magazine. [Deutsches Familienblatt, No.49, p.770]

The announced Quitzow-novel started however already in No. 10 of the Feierstunden under the author's name 'Karl May.'
   In summer May is charged with cooperation on the Buch der Liebe. Further charged are Münchmeyer's brother Friedrich as publisher, later also Otto Freitag as editor of the Venustempel. In this situation Pauline Münchmeyer pushes for marriage with Minna Ey. May was found not guilty; presumably he made in his Buch der Liebe the deplorable places milder. At the end of October May leaves his position but still writes some "necessary manuscripts". Supposedly at first he wants his Quitzow-novel to continue, even if he no longer is an editor with Münchmeyer. The hostility of Pauline because of May's rejection of her sister, which he could not tolerate, makes these plans impossible. Both May's Quitzow as well as Axmann's "Kurfürst" (Axmann died since he left Münchmeyer) will be continued from March 1877 by Dr. Heinrich Goldmann.
   After his editor's time May moves for a time into Hohenstein and Ernstthal. There he falls in love with the attractive Emma Pollmer, who celebrates on the 22nd November her twentiest birthday.
   In the year passed May authored amongst other: Auf den Nußbäumen, Unter den Werben, Leilet, Der beiden Quitzows letzte Fahrten, Ausgeräuchert and Im Wollteufel.

Dresden-Altstadt,
Jagdweg 14
  

Pillnitzer Straße 72

1877

May lives in Pillnitzer St. 72 at widow Groh. During the next months he writes Die beiden Nachtwächter, Der Dukatenhof, Die verhängnißvolle Neujahrsnacht, Ziege oder Bock, Der Samiel, Der Kaiserbauer.
   On the 26th May Emma Pollmer follows him to Dresden. She finds a position in the household of priest-widow Auguste Petzold in Mathildenstrasse 18. Karl May becomes an editor with the publisher Bruno Radelli for the 2nd year's edition of a popular magazine "Frohe Stunden"; the first number appears at the end of June. From No. 10 May publishes regularly his own texts: Der Oelprinz, Die Gum, Ein Abenteuer auf Ceylon, Die Kriegskasse, Aqua benedetta, Auf der [hoher] See gefangen, Ein Self-man.
   At Peter Rosegger appears Die Rose von Kahira. This story was already published at Münchmeyer the year before under the title Leilet. Because of the latest publication Rosseger considers "Mr. Karl May ... to be a widely traveled man, who must have lived in the Orient for a long time."

Dresden-Altstadt,
Pillnitzer Straße 72
1878

From the beginning of the year May lives in a ground floor flat in Dresden-Striessen, where Emma keeps the household for him; they were considered to be a married couple. He writes there for the "Frohen Stunden": Husarenstreiche, Der Africander, Vom Tode erstanden, Die Rache des Ehri, Nach Sibirien. For Peter Rosseger May wrote Die falschen Excellenzen.
   26th January: Emil Eduard Pollmer, Emma's alcoholic uncle, dies in Niederwürschnitz bei Stollberg; in a state of intoxication he was run over by a horse carriage but managed still to drag himself into a horse stable of a restaurant "Zum braven Bergmann". The grandfather of Emma, the barber Christian Gotthilf Pollmer, does not believe it was an accident. He talked May into investigating.
   25th April: May inquires as a "higher, Government appointed official". Even if he does not name any title or service grade, he is accused of falsy claiming an official status. On the 11th June he was because of that summoned to Dresden. At the end of June May finished his editor's time with Radelli. Emma Pollmer moves back to her grandfather in Hohenstein, Karl May to his parents. Temporarily May should have stayed in Berlin. It is possible he was looking for a new editor's position.
   6th September: Interrogation at the court office at Hohenstein. 15th October: Interrogation in Stollberg and a confrontation on the 25th October. May's attitude is indifferent; he forgoes legal help. In summer and autumn he writes the tales: Des Kindes Ruf, Die Universalerben, Die Laubthaler and Der Waldkönig.

Dresden-Strießen
Straße Nr. 4
Villa Forsthaus

Ernstthal,
Marktplatz 185

1879

On the 9th January May is sentenced by the court in Stollberg for "unauthorized practice of a public office" (in the meaning of paragraph 132 StGB [German Law]) to three weeks of prison. This sentence is, as the lawyer Erich Schwinge doubtlessly proved, an incorrect decision. The acts are preserved. May had in no way undertaken any official business. Protest (12th May) and clemency request (2nd July) were rejected. From 1st till 22nd September Karl May had to "sit out" his 'penalty' in the jailhouse of the court office in Hohenstein. This disgrace has never stopped being painful to him, as many examples in his work testify.
   The relationship with Emma Pollmer became endangered due to her unfaithfulness; Karl May stayed presumably with his parents.
   His literary activity was shaping more luckily. First contacts with the catholic weekly "Deutscher Hausschatz" in Regensburg. In the travel story Unter Würgern comes for the first time the name "Old Shatterhand". End of November appears in Stuttgart publishing house Franz Neugebauer his book rework of the Ferry's novel "Der Waldläufer", as well as his first book for the young readers Im fernen Westen.
   Further publications in this year: Ein Dichter, Der Giftheiner, Three carde monte, Unter Würgen, Der Girl-Robber, Der Boer van het Roer and the Stuttgart's newspaper novel Scepter und Hammer. From the included chapter Der tolle Prinz a serious break with Emma Pollmer could be concluded, whom May immortilized there as Emma Vollmer, who was unfaithful to her sweetheart.

Ernstthal,
Marktplatz 185

1880

January: "May, Dr. Karl ..." is mentioned for the first time in "Allgemeinen Deutschen Literaturkalender".
   19th February: The intended marriage announcement of Karl May and Emma Pollmer was made public in Hohenstein. The notice was in place from 20th February until 7th March.
   May: The "Deutsche Hausschatz" reports for the first time, that the "I narrator" of the travel adventures is identical with the author Karl May - he experienced all himself.
   26th May: Emma's grandfather Christian Gotthilf Pollmer dies after a stroke in Hohenstein. And on the 27th May dies May's older sister Auguste Wilhelmine, married Hoppe, of blood disorder. Because of these fatal blows - probably also because of differences in opinions - the official marriage of Karl May and Emma Pollmer does not take place until the 17th August.
   12th September: Church wedding in the Hohenstein church of St.Christopheri, followed by moving into a house "Am Markt 2".
   Publications worth mentioning from this year: Deadly Dust, Der Brodnik, Die Juweleninsel, Der Kiang-lu, Tui Fanua.

Ernstthal,
Marktplatz 185

Am Markt 2

1881

January: In the Hausschatz - the travel story Giölgeda padishanün - later the Durch die Wüste and volumes to follow - appears for the the first time in a personal form [I narrator] Kara Ben Nemsi and his servant Hadschi Halef Omar. This Orient cycle is literary only surpassed by his late years works.
   March: The "Deutsche Hausschatz" writes in No. 9 an answer to a reader in Westfalen: "The author of the adventure travel stories visited himself all the countries which are the scenes of his narratives. He returned recently from a journey to Russia, Bulgaria, Constantinopel etc., and even suffered a knife wound as a souvenir. He however does not enjoy to travel with the red Bädecker [travel guidebook] in hand and via railway compartment, but seeks the less known routes.. - Many thanks for your greetings!"
   November 1881: The newspaper "Le Monde" starts to print French translation of May's books.

Hohenstein,
Am Markt 2
1882

May works intensively on his Orient cycle for "Deutscher Hausschatz". The Reise-Abenteuer in Kurdistan as well as Die Todeskaravane make him very succesful. The final chapters of his Juweleninsel for the Stuttgarter publisher Goeltz & Ruehling he writes without enthusiasm; the novel finishes accordingly.
   In late summer Karl and Emma May spend time on a holiday tour in Dresden-Altstadt. In Renger's restaurant it comes to a predestined meeting with an old acquaintance the publisher Heirich Münchmeyer. From this meeting develops a several years lasting business relation. A contract is cofirmed with handshake. May should write a gripping serial novel for a remunaration of 35 Marks per delivery. As soon as the edition reaches 20.000 prints, May should in addition receive a nice gratification, and further the ownership's rights. May starts at first sporadicaly with the Waldröschen:

"Dear Madam!
I shall be very thankful to you, if you could induce your dear husband, whom I have the honour to call my trusted friend, to send to me the manuscript, to be precise 3 numbers per week. Now is the best time to publish the small work. I have the first number ready, yet I cannot publish it as I cannot deliver more without a manuscript.
I have done well for your husband. I have given him about 500 Marks already for this little work, and he is so ungrateful and lets me just sit and yet he calls himself my best friend in his letters and promises me pies in the sky, does not however keep a word of his promises.
I believe he listens to you, because he loves you, as he always claims. I turn therefore with confidence to you and think of you as my saviour angel, who should redeem me from my expensive and highly dangerous situation. My wife sends her cordial greetings and is asking together with me for your help. I send my very cordial greetings, and sign myself with familiar respect, Your sincerest H.G.Münchmeyer
Dresden the 20 October 1882."

Emma's mediation is succesfull: Waldröschen oder die Rächerjagd rund um die Erde started at the begining of December under the pseudonym "Capitain Ramon Diaz de la Escosura" and became shortly a bestseller.
   Further works: Die Both Shatters, Der Krumir, Ein Fürst-Marschall als Bäcker, Robert Surcouf, Christi Blut und Gerechtigkeit, In Damaskus und Baalbeck, Ein Oelbrand

Hohenstein,
Am Markt 2
1883

With fair confidence May travels at the beginning of February in Dresden to visit Münchmeyer. Emma follows later. Between her and the publisher's wife Pauline develops an intimate frienship.
   6th April: Emma May's friend from youth Ida Metzer holds in her Hohenstein's flat a seance.
   7th April: Moving from Hohenstein to Dresden-Blasewitz. In the Blasewitz local resident's list May is recorded as "Literat und Redacteur". Most probably the "Redacteur"is editing together with Münchmeyer the "Deutsche Wanderer". It should be of the same quality as both the by me founded in 1875 popular magazines. In the "Wanderer" appears at the end of September, now for the fee of 50 Marks, Die Liebe des Ulanen.
   May authored in this productive year further: Stambul, Im "wilden Westen" Nordamerika's, Der Amsenhändler, Pandur und Grenadier. He has to decline a cooperation with Joseph Kürschner (Publisher of Literary Calender) for lack of time.

Hohenstein,
Am Markt 2

Dresden-Blasewitz,
Sommerstr. 7

1884

Presumably at the beginning of April May moves with his wife Emma in Prinzenstrasse 4. With the end of Waldröschen he starts in August another popular novel for Münchmeyer: Der verlorne Sohn oder der Fürst des Elends. The work for the "Deutscher Hausschatz" gets on hold. Der letzte Ritt, part of the Orient cycle, is from middle of December interrupted for half a year; the readers and the editor's board are annoyed.

Dresden-Blasewitz,
Sommerstr. 7

Dresden-Altstadt,
Prinzenstr. 4

1885

15th April: May's mother dies from a tumour, presumably a cancer. About a month later May's father suffers a stroke. Delivery of manuscripts is out during these misfortune blows. Die Liebe des Ulanen stays for four weeks without a continuation. As a makeshift solution appear parts of the des verlornen Sohn under the title Ulane und Zouave as a fragment in the "Deutsche Wanderer". In June May's psyche has recovered so far that he is able to carry on writing; he even continues in summer for a few months his Orient cycle. His Ulanen-novel finishes in October. At X-mas starts his fourth Münchmeyer novel Deutsche Herzen, deutsche Helden.

Dresden-Altstadt,
Prinzenstr. 4
1886

27th February: May's former Prison Institution catholic teacher Kochta dies.
   Towards the end of July finishes May's verlorner Sohn. In order to publish immediately a follow up novel, about the middle of June about 50 manuscript pages of the novel Delila came into existence. Almost at the same time died under mysterious circumstances on the 13th June King Ludwig II. of Bavaria - for a popular novels publisher sensational news. May interrupts therefore Delila (a fragment remains) and writes a novel about the fairy tale king: Der Weg zum Glück. This should be his last Münchmeyer novel. At the end of the year he begins a novel for young readers Der Sohn des Bärenjägers for the Stuttgarter publisher Spemann.

Dresden-Altstadt,
Prinzenstr. 4
1887

8th January: The boys-magazine "Der Gute Kamerad" starts with May's Sohn des Bärenjägers. Meanwhile Münchmeyer has problems to print his issues on time:

"My dear doctor!
   I expected you on Sunday evening with a big load of manuscripts, but in vain. It upset me and made me worried as for me it is a question of my existence. If you do not deliver enough and on time I will loose my with difficulties subscribed readers which costs much money.
Engage a stenographer! If you dictate through one night, you have 4 - 5 numbers of a manuscript on paper and that will help me.
   I have fulfilled almost every wish to you and beg therefore now you to fulfill my wish. Please bring me luck tomorrow morning because then with those already here will make circa 66 issues.
   My greetings, sincerely H. G. Münchmeyer
   Dresden 21st November 1887."

About beginning of April: Moving to Schnorrstrasse 31. Middle August May starts to write Durch das Land der Skipetaren; this travel story represents the end of the Orient cycle in "Deutscher Hausschatz".

Dresden-Altstadt,
Prinzenstr. 4

Schnorrstr. 31

1888

Beginning of January finishes the Münchmeyer novel Deutsche Herzen, deutsche Helden. May does not allow himself rest - he writes a story for young readers Der Geist der Llano estakada. In the middle of January the "Hausschatz" starts to print the Skipetaren-travel story. Beginning February starts Der Geist der Llano ... in "Guten Kameraden".
   On the 6th September dies after a long illness May's father. Change of editor's board at "Deutscher Hausschatz" in Regensburg: The towards May positively disposed Venanz Müller is followed by Heinrich Keiter - a selfadmiring personality with his own writer's ambitions:

"The battle about the novels of travel narrator Carl May is being hotly pursued by our readers. Whilst one part complains to the editors with severe criticism that the novels take such a large space which could be used more usefuly, the others in no less certain terms say that right at the beginning of the new year's edition a story by Carl May should start again. The editors are then forced to go the middle golden way to satisfy both sides."

1st October: Moving from Dresden to Kötzschenbroda into a Villa Idylle, Schützenstrasse 6.
   12th October: May enters his name into the local resident's list as "Dr. phil. Karl May, writer".
Further publications in this year: Kong-Kheou, das Ehrenwort, and also Der Scout.

Dresden-Altstadt,
Schnorrstr. 31

Kötzschenbroda,
Schützenstr. 6
Villa Idylle

1889

Presumably early in spring Karl and Emma May get to know the married pair Plöhn. Richard Plöhn, the owner of a bandages manufacturing factory becames May's best friend, and Plöhn's wife Klara - in the following years Emma's best friend - will play an important role in May's life. Karl May authored in this work-productive year about 3770 manuscript pages!
   Publications: Die Sklavenkarawane, Im Mistake-Cannon, Sklavenrache, Lopez Jordan.

Kötzschenbroda,
Schützenstr. 6
Villa Idylle
1890

14th January: May's landslady charged him in local court in Dresden for non-payment of rent. The outstanding quaterly rent (200 Marks) for the expensive Villa Idylle stays unpaid despite May's intensive writing. His household servant girl had to be dismissed on the 19th March.
   Presumably at the beginning of April: moving to Niederlößnitz, Lößnitzstrasse 11. Important publications: Christus oder Muhammed, Der Schatz im Silbersee, Der Schatz der Inkas.
   At the end of October appears in book edition Der Sohn des Bärenjägers, according to the title page Die Helden des Westens (included into the volume is Der Geist des Llano estakado), at the Stuttgart "Union Deutsche Verlagsanstalt".

Niederlößnitz,
Lößnitzstr. 11
1891

8th April: Moving to Oberlößnitz into Villa Agnes, Nizzastrasse 13.
   28th May: "... the wife of Dr.May woke up because of ground floor noise. She woke up her husband, who went immediately down where he found to his surprise .... all the cupboards and drawers open and the content partly strewn on the floor. The intruder also left an axe on the bed. There was no trace of the thief himself who forced his way into the room by bursting open a window shutter and breaking several window panes ...". [Kötzschenbrodaer Zeitung from 30th May]
   In late summer negotiated the publisher Friedrich Ernst Fehsenfeld from Freiburg im Breisgau with May about the publishing of "Hausschatz" stories in a book edition. A historical moment.

"In loveable, nice Lößnitzgrund
there sit two in solitude;
they enter into friendshipbond,
never part their ways again.
One sends the novels in,
The other has them printed
And the end is a happy note;
Both will be mightily lucky!

[Karl May to Friedrich Ernst Fehsenfeld]

November: Karl and Emma May take into their home the nine-year old niece Clara ("Lottel") Selbmann.
   Important publications in newspapers: Das Vermächtnis des Inka (Kamerad), Der Mahdi (Hausschatz).

Niederlößnitz,
Lößnitzstr. 11

Oberlößnitz,
Nizzastraße 13
Villa Agnes

1892

6th April: Publisher H. G. Münchmeyer dies in Davos (Schweiz) from advanced lung disease.
   10th May: The first volume from the Fehsenfeld edition Durch Wüste und Harem (In later editions Durch die Wüste) appears. Following are Durchs wilde Kurdistan, Von Bagdad nach Stambul, In den Schluchten des Balkan, Durch das Land der Skipetaren, Der Schut. Karl May becomes now a wealthy man.
   In summer Emma associates secretly with Army officers. May's niece Lottel tells all to her uncle. It comes to marital discord. Further life together of Emma and May's niece is not possible. In August Lottel is taken home by her mother, May's sister Karoline.
    From September the "Hausschatz" starts with the 2nd part of Mahdi. At Union Publishers appears in October the book edition Kong-Kheu, das Ehrenwort under the title Der blau-rote Methusalem.

Oberlößnitz,
Nizzastraße 13
Villa Agnes
1893

June: Karl and Emma travel in Schwarzwald [Black Forest]. They take the opportunity to visit publisher Fehsenfeld and his wife; together they go to Switzerland into Bönigen am Brienzer See. On the 17th September May writes to his publisher Fehsenfeld:

Your anger is justified, however I am not that much at fault, as you think. The main reason that I cannot finish anything is my present as to the previous very much increased nervousness, to which my wife does not pay the slightest consideration, and then a more familiar, about which I cannot write. My wife became since the unfortunate trip completely different. ... I am as the result of domestic quarrel now always so knocked down, that I often look at the wall over my writing desk, where a loaded revolver hangs. One needs after all peace, one way or the other!

On the 26th November May writes to Fehsenfeld that because of his eye afliction he was "shortly twice in Leipzig".
   Book editions at Fehsenfeld: Winnetou der Rote Gentleman (3 volumes, the postscript: "der Rote Gentleman" was later omitted), Orangen und Datteln.
   Important newspaper publications: Der Oelprinz, Die Felsenburg (later Satan und Ischariot I). And one more book edition at the Union: Die Sklavenkarawane.

Oberlößnitz,
Nizzastraße 13
Villa Agnes
1894

March: May suffers from influenza with inflammation of the rip cartilages. Also his eyes make him worried. Beginning of May he travels with Emma for rest into Harz. His state of health is not good; because of that he has to use the services of a secretary. (May in a letter to Fehsenfeld from 9th May).
   Presumably in summer May writes about himself as "Old Shatterhand" the following part for Old Surehand I:
 I was born as a sick, weak child, who still at the age of six years crawled on the ground, not being able to stand or run ... I was blind three times ... [S. 41f.]
This is most probably a small poetic exaggeration, but behind this could be hidden May's fear from new blidness.
   From September appears in "Deutsche Hausschatz" Krüger Bei (later Satan und Ischariot II); there the readers at X-mas learn about Winnetou's visit at the Dresden's choir! A 440 manuscript pages containing a chapter In der Heimath is crossed out by Heinrich Keiter.
   October: In the house of Münchmeyer's widow May asks for the long outstanding settlement of his five Münchmeyer's novels. Later he receives a set of bound volumes of the published novels. The original manuscripts of the Münchmeyer's novels are no longer in existence, they were destroyed as superfluous.
   27th November: Pauline Münchmeyer pleads for a new novel, if possible the Delila (1886) should be continued. May refuses!
   Fehsenfeld book editions: Am Stillen Ocean, Am Rio de la Plata, In den Cordilleren, Old Surehand I.
Further book editions: Die Rose von Kairwan (Wehberg, Osnabrück), Der Schatz im Silbersee (Union).

Oberlößnitz,
Nizzastraße 13
Villa Agnes
1895

This year the in Lawrence/USA living Ferdinand Pfefferkorn visits with his wife the former schoolfriend Karl May.The Pfefferkorns are dedicated spiritualists. Seances are held at May's house, at which most probably were present the befriended pair Plöhn's.
   23 December: Bought a new Villa! [for 37.300 mark] Yesterday moved in with new furniture! Day and night to write manuscripts! [May to Carl Felber]
   3oth December: The official sales contract for the Villa "Shatterhand" in Radebeul, Kirchstrasse 5, (today Karl-May-Straße) is signed.
   Book editions: Old Surehand II. (Fehsenfeld), Das Vermächtnis des Inka (Union).

Oberlößnitz,
Nizzastraße 13
Villa Agnes
1896

March/April: Karl May takes possession of the "Silberbüchse" [Silver rifle] and the "Bärentöter" [Bear Killer] from Dresden gunsmith Max Fuchs made to order. He will document with these the genuineness of his travels, to forget at the same time his sad past. May could use publicity exercise like a modern showstar.
   Easter: The amateur photographer Alois Schießer, who arrived from Linz, took 101 costume shots with Karl May as "Old Shatterhand" and "Kara Ben Nemsi". The "Old Shatterhand Legend" reaches its highest point; many Karl May Clubs are founded.
   In summer, presumably in July, Heinrich Keiter visits the succesful writer. He apologises personally for crossing out the Heimath chapter in Krüger Bei. May declared previously that he will not supply the "Deutscher Hausschatz". At the end of September appears in "Hausschatz" May's Freuden und Leiden eines Vielgelesenen:

The night, often two, three nights one after the other, without then being able to sleep during the day, is in general my working time, because of the many visitors, coming daily, to personally get to know "their" Old Shatterhand resp. Kara Ben Nemsi Effendi.

In "Guten Kameraden" is from September published May's last novel for young people Der schwarze Mustang.
   Book editions at Fehsenfeld: Der Mahdi (3 volumes), Old Surehand III, Satan und Ischariot I - III.

Radebeul,
Kirchstraße 5
Villa "Shatterhand."

(Karl-May-Museum)

1897

26th January: "Herr Keiter, who will in the future abstain from any literary interference in your manuscripts, begins in the 8th issue of "Hausschatz" with your new and so keenly expected travel story 'Im Reiche des silbernen Löwen' ... Hopefuly you will please us soon with a continuation of the most interesting manuscripts." [Friedrich Pustet jun. to Karl May]
   Presumably in early spring May composed music to Ave Maria of Winnetou's dying wish. From May until July Karl und Emma travel through Germany and Austria. Places they visit are: Leipzig, Hamburg, Deidesheim (they pay a visit there to the family of befriended wine merchant Seyler), Stuttgart, Bodensee, Innsbruck, Achensee, Munich, Regensburg, Böhmen. The stay in Munich turned out to be the highlight of the publicity tour:

On the first day over 900 visitors, second day over 600, third again 800. Towards the evening I went out through the side door and ran away. The high school students who were after an autogram stood in such great numbers before the hotel, that the tramway could not get through and they had to be sprayed away with a water hose. It's a fact! [Letter to Fehsenfeld from 27th July]

Book editions: Auf fremden Pfaden, Weihnacht (Fehsenfeld), Der Oelprinz (Union).

Radebeul,
Kirchstraße 5
Villa "Shatterhand."
1898

22 February: Her Imperial Highness Archduchess Maria Therese gives an audience to Karl May.
   6th May: In Gartow (Lower Saxony) May was seized by two Policemen; he is not to leave his hotel room. He is considered to be a swindler, because he gives for smallest services rich tips. In the end news came from Radebeul: "Karl May domiciled here, likes to exercise charity."
   On 30th August dies Heirich Keiter; Dr.Otto Denk takes over his editorial position at "Deutsche Hausschatz.. At this time it also comes to a nine years split with "Wochenblatt"; a catholic opposition against May comes into existence.
   Book editions at Fehsenfeld: Im reiche des silbernen Löwen I-II. Further appear Ernste Klänge, a publication with both May's music compositions Ave Maria and Vergiß mich nicht!

Radebeul,
Kirchstraße 5
Villa "Shatterhand."
1899

During the months January till March May finishes his novel Am Jenseits; he finds himself on the best way to fine literature. Do you read the printer's proofs of Volume 25? Yes? Than you would have noticed, that Karl May starts now to come out with his own intentions. It is a question of well prepared, great movement from the religious - social field ... The volumes up to now were written only for one purpose, to gather as many as possible readers as working field. [May to Fehsenfeld, 13th March]
   16th March: Pauline Münchmeyer sells the Publishing firm to Adalbert Fischer, who is interested in particular in May's popular literature novels.
   26th March: Departure for Orient. Importen visited places: Genua (4th April - farewell from Emma and the Plöhn's couple because of health reasons), Port Said (9th April), Cairo (30th April - May hires there little later the Arab servant Sejd Hassan), Beirut (26th June), Haifa (18th July), Jerusalem (30th July), Jaffa (21st August - 2nd September), Aden/South Arabia (15th September). Many liked me on the ship ["Gera"] even if I am just now the opposite from the previous Karl. He was with a great ceremony drown by me in the Red See, with ship's coal, which took him right to the bottom ... [Letter to Plöhn's from 16th September].
   10th November: Arrival in Padang on Sumatra. May suffers from emotinal outbursts, refuses all nourishment and should have acted insane - it is possible he suffered from dysentery. Nothing is known for sure. This state lasts for about a week.
   22nd November: May sends a telegram from Padang to Radebeul; he asks Emma to come with the Plöhns to Port Said.
   11th Dezember: May is quarantined because of danger of diseases and suspicion of plague. On the 18th December he is allowed to leave Port Said. His friend Richard Plöhn, who suffers from Bright's kidney disease, becomes in the meanwile seriously ill and stays with Klara and Emma in Arenzano (20 km west of Genoa).
   In Germany in the meantime began fierce press attacks against May; in particular Dr.Fedor Mamroth (Frankfurter Zeitung) and Hermann Cardauns (Koelnische Volkszeitung) criticised May's selfpromotion and the connected with it Old Shatterhand legend. The argument, started somewhat objectively at first, became in following years polemic, upright malicious: a witch hunt to death begins.
   Book edition: Am Jenseits [Fehsenfeld], Der schwarze Mustang [Union].

Radebeul,
Kirchstraße 5
Villa "Shatterhand."
1900

Karl and Emma May as well as Richard and Klara Plöhn stay in Arenzano until the 14th March; then the journey takes them to Pisa, Rome, Naples, Port Said. Cairo, Gizeh, Jaffa, Jerusalem, Hebron, Jericho, Tiberias, Nazareth, Haifa, Lebanon, Baalbek, Damascus amd Cyprus. In Instanbul May suffered again from emotional outbursts. Klara Plöhn was worried that "one would have to take him into a mental institution"! May's later wife certainly possessed a flair for colorful description of events and might have here a little exaggerated.
   The conclusion of the trip was: Coprinth, Bologna, Athens, Corfu, Venice and Bozen.
   25th March: The Münchmeyer's successor Adalbert Fischer disregards May's author's right and puts a new edition of Die Liebe des Ulanen on the market.The other four Muenchmeyr's novels should follow shortly, partly reworked by writer Paul Staberow.
   17th June: May says tearful goodby to his servant Sejd Hassan.
   31st July: Arrival in Radebeul after 15 months of absence. Karl May became a new person - the Old Shatterhand legend is dead. Only love of humanity and reconciliation of nations are from now his great ideals; also in private life he is restrained: the sexuality of Emma is not capable to have an hold on him.
   All my writings so far are just an introduction, only preparation. What I really want, no person knows except myself ...only now I start my proper task... [May's letter to his publiher Fehsenfeld from 10th September]
   In time for X-mas festivities appears May's volume of poems Himmelsgedanken.

Radebeul,
Kirchstraße 5
Villa "Shatterhand."
1901

14th February: May's friend Richard Plöhn dies of renal disease. His wife Klara is shattered; she is now a permanent guest in the Villa "Shatterhand."
   For Joseph Kürschner May writes his pacifist novel Et in terra pax. With that May undermines the imperialistic tendency - the hurrah-patriotism of the collected work "China" in which his text appears.
   End of September May travels with Emma and Klara in Switzerland to Vierwaldstaetter See. In autum he writes as an answer to polemic press attacks an anonymous pamphlet "Karl May als Erzieher" and "Die Wahrheit über Karl May".
   10th December May is sueing Adalbert Fischer for unauthorized reprint of his Münchmeyer novels.

Radebeul,
Kirchstraße 5
Villa "Shatterhand."
1902 At the beginning of the year the editor from Cologne Hermann Cardauns holds several anti-May lectures, in which he describes May's Münchmeyer novels as "abysmally immoral."
   10th March: Karl May takes to court Pauline Münchmeyer, against the will of his wife Emma who is her intimate friend. On the 16th March May engaged barrister Rudolf Bernstein to ask the accused Pauline Münchmeyer for the following:
  • to state the number of copies of Karl May's works, which were printed and circulated by Münchmeyer Publishing House to the 16th March 1899
  • the account of net profits and
  • to pay a gratification, if more than 20.000 numbers were printed.

In summer travel Karl May, Emma and Klara through Berlin, Hamburg, Leipzig and Munich to Bozen and finally to Mendel. In the Hotel Penegal on 21st August ends the marriage of Karl May with Emma words: "You take the guy, I've had enough of him!" More detailed circumstances which in the end led to the divorce, so far are not satisfactorily researched. One can suppose that the way Emma behaved through her change of life years, turned out to be difficult; also signs of increasing psychological disturbance are possible (Emma died on 13th December 1917 in an Institution). She was also prone to fits of rage, which were directed against Karel May and were making the survival of the marriage impossible. Unquestionably Klara Plöhn willingly chose the favourable time. Finally however in Karl and Klara two people found each other who suited better together.
   19th August: Emma May signs divorce papers.
   10th September: May lodges in Radebeul the divorce documents.
   Fehsenfeld's book edition: Im Reiche des silbernen Löwen III.

Radebeul,
Kirchstraße 5
Villa "Shatterhand."
1903

14th January: May's marriage was dissolved.
   4th March: The divorce became legally valid.
   30th March: Wedding of Karl May and Klara Plöhn at registrar's office. A day later follows a church wedding in the Lutheran church at Radebeul.
   25th May: At Adalbert Fischer [Publisher] appears May's Erzgebirgische Dorfgeschichten.
   3rd November: Emma receives from May a yearly income of 3000 Mark; for that she has to live at least 100 km away from Dresden - she moves to Weimar.
   Beginning November the Münchmeyer's lawyer Dr. Gerlach succeds in bringing in May's criminal records. The result comes on 8th November. May becomes seriously ill: High fever with heart weakness.
   Fehsenfeld's book edition: Im Reiche des silbernen Löwen IV.

Radebeul,
Kirchstraße 5
Villa "Shatterhand."
1904

 8th March: Karl and Klara May visit in Meißen the artist painter Sascha Schneider. He should provide the whole Fehsenfeld's edition with different title pages, to stress in particular the artistic, pacifist values of his writings - a clear turn away from the so called "Author for young people".
   Middle of September appears Et in terra pax in Fehnsenfeld's enlarged book edition under the title Und Friede auf Erden!
   26th September: Pauline Münchmeyer is obliged to produce accounts, as soon as Karl May provides a sworn statement.
   X-mas: As a revenge for refused loan, which the unscrupulous press-bandid Rudolf Lebius sought to get from May, shout from the shopwindows of Dresden's bookshops big placards, on which is from far visible announcement in red huge letters: "The Previous Convictions of Karl May".

Radebeul,
Kirchstraße 5
Villa "Shatterhand."
1905

Early in the year appears as a private print May's view on the [Münchmeyer's] affair Ein Schundverlag. There he reports on his time with Heinrich Münchmeyer. In 1909 will also appear as a private print Ein Schundverlag und seine Helfershelfer.
   On the 3rd October is May's complaint of slander by Lebius dealt with before the Dresden' country court. Through a tactical mistake of May's lawyer Klotz, public reading from previous convictions record of Karl May was allowed.
   In the same month May visits in Dresden a lecture by the Nobel peace prize winner Bertha von Suttner, a friendship develops between them.

Radebeul,
Kirchstraße 5
Villa "Shatterhand."
1906

5th February: May wins the Münchmeyer process in 2nd session.
   30th June: Rudolf Lebius calls May a hereditary criminal.
   1st September: May's drama Babel und Bibel. Arabische Fantasia in zwei Akten appears at Fehsenfeld in one edition of 1200 prints.

Radebeul,
Kirchstraße 5
Villa "Shatterhand."
1907

9th January: May wins at the [German] Reich court in Leipzig the Münchmeyer process in 3rd session. About the repayment of damages is yet to be decided. May's legal representative Rudolf Netcke put a sum to the Waldröschen alone to 250.000 Mark! On 11th Februar May gave the following sworn statement:

I swear in the name of the Omnipotent and Omniscient God
1. I have, after I accidently met in 1882 the deceased Heinrich Gotthold Münchmeyer in a restaurant in Dresden, promised to write a novel for him, namely the WALDRÖSCHEN under following conditions:
The novel should appear under a pseudonym and should be printed and distributed only up to 20.000 prints. As compensation I should receive for every issue 35 mark and apart from that, when the authorized number of prints is reached, once more a fine gratification.
Besides I should keep the right to include the novel into my collected works.
2. These stipulations were carried over later to the novels DEUTSCHE HERZEN UND HELDEN, DER VERLONERE SOHN und DER WEG ZUM GLÜCK, however with the stipulation that the remunaration for each print of the named novels will be not only 35, but 50 Mark.
3. With regard to the novel DIE LIEBE DES ULANEN I agreed in 1883 with Münchmeyer that I will allow him to print the novel only in the 1884 edition of "Deutscher Wanderer".
4. The same has been agreed with Münchmeyer about six stories from 1875 and 1884 AUS DER MAPPE EINES VIELGEREISTEN (INN-NU-WOH and OLD FIREHAND), EIN STÜCKLEIN VOM ALTEN DESSAUER, DIE FASTNACHTSNARREN, UNTER WERBERN, DER GITANO and DIE POLIN [WANDA] that one print only in one particular year's edition is to be published.
5. I have not agreed with Münchmeyer in regard to 1 - 4 of my works that he after once only payment will get unrestricted publishing rights.
In this help me God.

7th April: The Münchmeyer's successor Adalbert Fischer dies. On the 15th April 1907 reports the Münchmeyer's lawyer Dr.Gerlach May and his associates for perjury. The reproach is proven untenable.
   8th October: Inheritors of the publisher Fischer declare in a settlement, "that the in the publishing house H. G. Münchmeyer printed novels of writer Karl May suffered over a period of time through insertions and changes by a third hand such changes, that in their present form cannot be considered any longer as to be authored by Karl May." The author's name Karl May is taken away from the famously notorious five Münchmeyer's novels and can be from now on printed solely anonymously.

Münchmeyer's succesor ... has made such changes that between the old and his new edition a difference of hundreds of pages appeared. This is after all just horrible! If some person would dare to cut and paintbrush pictures of a painter or to hack and chisel statues of a sculptor and offer such mutilations for sale as originals, the whole Presscorp would take the cause of the injured artist and brand the falsificator in such way that he would not be able to show his face again. [Karl May: Ein Schundverlag, p. 852f.]

13th September: Meeting with the Hausschatz editor Otto Denk. After nine years May is ready to write again for the "Deutscher Hausschatz". Immediately he starts with a draft for "Mir von Dschinnistan". By this he makes a move into fine literature. With the readers of "Hausschatz", who expected the old travel stories full of action as before, this novel finds little approval.
   At the end of the year May writes Frau Pollmer, eine psychologische Studie, in which he tries in vain to write himself free from his first wife. This text stays unprinted. Fom October appears in the Regensburg newspaper "Efeuranken" the travel tale Schamah.

Radebeul,
Kirchstraße 5
Villa "Shatterhand."
1908

8th March: In his last will May establishes a charitable foundation.
   23rd March till 23rd April: In "Grazer Volksblatt" appears Abdahn Effendi.
   The anthropologist and sexual researcher F. S. Krauss visits May and names him "a blessing for humanity".
   In this year Karl May with his Klara undertake the first and only trip to America. The places visited: Bremen (5th September), New York (16th September), Albany (22/23rd September), Buffalo (end of September), Niagara Falls (beginning of October), Lawrence/Massachusetts at school friend Pfefferkorn (October), Boston and New York (November). On 4th November Mays are presumably again in Radebeul. Beginning of December they stay for a short time in London.

Radebeul,
Kirchstraße 5
Villa "Shatterhand."
1909

31st July: May's Merhameh appears in "Eichsfelder Marienkalender 1910".
   September: Dr.Adof Droop publishes a study: "Karl May. An analysis of his travel stories".
   22nd November: Rudolf Lebius write to a friend of Emma the opera singer Selma vom Scheidt that he considers Karl May "to be a born criminal".
   17th December: Karl May lodges a complaint at the magistrate court Berlin-Charlottengurg against Lebius for slander.
   8th December: May has a lecture in Augsburg Sitara, das Land der Menscheitsseele.
   Fehsenfeld book editions: Ardistan und Dshninnistan I and II.

Radebeul,
Kirchstraße 5
Villa "Shatterhand."

1910

10th January: Karl May starts a legal prosecution against Rudolf Lebius for the worst kind of slander because of his article "Hinter den Kulissen" [Behind the Scene] published in the weekly magazine "Der Bund" on 19th Dcember 1909. Lebius claimed May had for years lived in a forest as a chief robber, commited daily breakings, raids on market women, sexualy misused his nine years old niece and strangled the grandfather of his first wife Emma!
   May's frequent illnesses, made worse by the character assassinations, led in the end to the writer's death. Main court proceedings never eventuated. According to law experts Lebius would have been sentenced to jail term.
   On 12th April Lebius was found firstly not guilty with regard to slander action (complaint from 17 December 1909) in the letter to Selma vom Scheidt; May appealed.
   12th May: I do not deny that I came into conflict with the law 40 or 50 years ago and was punished for it; but what I did then in the deepest mental depression and coerced state [of mind] would be in the present, more enlightened time heard not by a judge, but a physician. My opponents bring this up and put cunning lies to it. There are five legal proceedings underway from which the truth will come out. [May in a letter to Peter Rosegger]
   In August of 1910 Dr. E. A. Schmid was a guest for a few days at the "Villa Shatterhand." After May’s death, as a Director of the 'Karl-May-Verlag' [Publishing House], he widely and with great effort made generally known May’s views.
   Fehsenfeld book editions: Winnetou IV, Mein Leben und Streben. Almost simultaneously with May's autobiography Rudolf Lebius published "Die Zeugen Karl und Klara May", - a pamphlet of the worst kind! Because of reciprocal objections both May's autobiography and also the Lebius pamphlet were banned.

Radebeul,
Kirchstraße 5
Villa "Shatterhand."
1911

8th May: Again very sick, I write to you only very shortly. I have overestimated my strength, lung inflammation and physical strain of wittness proceedings made me completely 'kaputt' ... I must go to a spa, I leave already on Thursday. [Karl May to lawyer Haubold].
   11th May: Departure in Joachimsthal. Dr. Gottlieb ordered bathing. From the middle of June till end of July Karl and Klara May spent in South Tirol on recreational holiday. On the Mendel his state of health becomes worse again.
   18th December: In an appeal proceedings (complaint from 17th December 1909) Rudolf Lebius is found guilty of slander and given 100 Mark penalty to pay.

Radebeul,
Kirchstraße 5
Villa "Shatterhand."
1912

25th Februay: May celebrates his seventies birthday.
   Beginning March May travels for the last time in Hohenstein-Ernstthal. He visits there his sister Wilhelmine Schöne; their niece Ilse receives from him for the beginning of school a large cone full of lollies.
   22nd March: Karl May delivers a lecture in Vienna at the invitation of "Akademischen Verbandes für Literatur und Musik" in front of over 2000 listeners, his big peace address is entitled Empor ins Reich der Edelmenschen. Amongst the present is Bertha von Suttner.
   30th March: Karl May dies around 8 PM in his Villa "Shatterhand." His breathing stopped, presumably as a result of lung disease. The big heart became still. May's funeral follows on 3rd April at Radebeul's cemetery.

Radebeul,
Kirchstraße 5
Villa "Shatterhand."

 


Translated by Dr. William E. Thomas, Arbeits- und Forschungsgemeinschaft ›Karl May‹ in Sachsen – Die Karl-May-Vereinigung


Karl May – The years 1842–1874

Karl May – Life and Works

Karl May – Leben und Werk

Karl-May-Stiftung