Station:  Sophie von La Roche
F: Sophie von La Roche is regarded as Germany's first bestselling author. Her successful novel "Die Geschichte des Fräuleins von Sternheim" (The Story of Miss von Sternheim), published in 1771, was a hit with both the public and the critics. It’s an epistolary novel that set the pattern for all subsequent German epistolary novels – including Goethe's "Sorrows of Young Werther". The volume in the display case is a copy of the 1771 first edition of La Roche’s novel. Goethe also attended her literary salon.
M: Sophie von La Roche was born on the 6th of December 1730 in the town of Kaufbeuren. In 1786, at the age of 56, she moved to Offenbach where she lived and worked for the rest of her life. She had eight children. Her granddaughter, Bettina von Arnim, and her grandson, Clemens Brentano, followed in her footsteps as writers.
F: Sophie von La Roche is regarded as Germany’s first financially independent professional writer. From 1783 to ‘84, she also edited the women's magazine "Pomona für Teutschlands Töchter" – “Pomona for Germany’s Daughters”.
M: Goethe's mother, Katharina Elisabeth, nicknamed "Frau Aja", was one of Sophie von La Roche’s friends. When the French bombed Frankfurt in 1796, she sought refuge in La Roche’s house in Offenbach's Domstrasse. The cup on show in the glass case is said to have been used by "Frau Aja" during her enforced visit.
F: Sophie von La Roche died in February 1807, aged 76. She was laid to rest in the graveyard of the Church of St. Pancras in Bürgel, which is now a district of Offenbach. Her gravestone has been moved to the Isenburg Palace arcades to protect it from weathering.
M: Her home in Domstrasse was demolished in 1959 to make way for Berliner Strasse, which was under construction at the time and is now one of Offenbach's main thoroughfares.
This memorial plaque from 1931 is made of Red Main Sandstone and includes an unusual flaw. It lists the year of Sophie von La Roche’s birth as 1731, but we now know that she was actually born in 1730.
Foto 1: © Haus der Stadtgeschichte
Foto 2: © J. Baumann