Johann Wolfgang von Goethe was a German writer and polymath of the late 18th century. He is considered one of the greatest thinkers in western culture, with an immense body of work ranging from poetry and drama to philosophy and science.
Goethe was an avid student in a rigorous humanistic education program, mastering Greek and Latin, among other topics. He later became a major influence in the Sturm und Drang literary movement, the major literary expression of German Romanticism.
His ballad-style poem, 'The Sorrows of Young Werther,' gained considerable popularity in the early 19th century for depicting emotional struggle, suffering, and suicide.
Goethe wrote his two-part work Faust, which presents a dramatic exploration of a man grappling with the fundamental question of existence.
He was an early proponent of what would later become the Nova effect, an observation and scientific explanation that certain chemical reactions transform one element into another.
Goethe was an early advocate for holistic health and a dedicated practitioner of outdoor activities such as walking and swimming.
He was a major proponent of the concept of Bildung, cultivating one's natural talents and capabilities and fostering a school of thought focusing on self-development.
Goethe viewed plants as a book of nature where he could observe and analyze form, tradition, and other hidden influences, which would influence his scientific understanding and theories.
Goethe was an influential figure in the development of typography and the modern form of graphic design.
He founded the Weimar Classicism movement of 18th-century German culture, which was eventually adopted throughout Europe.
Goethe spent his later years serving his homeland, first as Ambassador to Italy and then as Privy Councillor for Literature and Art for the Duke of Weimar.