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The Freedom of Emma Herwegh

Translated by Imogen Taylor

A gripping novel based on the life of the 19th-century revolutionary Emma Herwegh

As the daughter of a well-regarded family, Emma Siegmund causes a scandal by marrying the revolutionary poet Georg Herwegh. Committed to the socialist cause, she becomes the only woman to join the armed troops that bring the revolution from France to Germany in 1848. But when Georg falls madly in love with Natalie, the wife of his comrade Alexander Herzen, Emma finds her ideals challenged, setting off a private battle of fidelity and betrayal.

In this compelling, intimate novel, Dirk Kurbjuweit tells the story of a woman who does not bow to the prejudices of her time. In doing so, he shows us just how relevant her struggles are to contemporary life—in her contradictions, her ambitions, and her quest for freedom and happiness.


Pile by the Bed   

Dirk Kurbjuweit
About the Author

Dirk Kurbjuweit is a journalist at Der Spiegel and lives in Berlin. He has received numerous awards for his writing, including the Egon Erwin Kisch Prize for journalism, and is the author of ten critically acclaimed novels, many of which have been adapted for film, television, theatre and radio.

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About the Translator

Imogen Taylor is literary translator based in Berlin who also translated Fear, Twins and The Missing by Dirk Kurbjuweit. Her translation of Sasha Marianna Salzmann’s Beside Myself was shortlisted for the 2021 Helen & Kurt Wolff Translator’s Prize and the Schlegel-Tieck Prize 2020. More recent work includes Alfred Döblin’s Two Women and a...

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Text publication date:
28 November 2023
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Praise for Dirk Kurbjuweit
andThe Freedom of Emma Herwegh

‘A well-rounded historical novel.’

‘An enlightening, interesting novel…especially because of its topicality.’

‘Kurbjuweit’s novel is gripping, almost gossipy at times…A romantic drama in multiple acts.’

‘Emma Herwegh will stay with the reader long after the book is closed.’

‘Emma is an interesting woman, one who did not bow to the ideals of her time and class, and who was determined to do what was important and right…I enjoyed the book, and learned something, which is always a fine thing.’

‘Tells an instantly recognisable story of a talented woman surrounded by men who justify their selfishness with grand rhetoric and theories.’

‘Illuminates a fascinating period of world history as revolution and change swept through Europe…By putting a forthright woman at the centre of his narrative, Kurbjuweit digs into the attitudes and prejudices of the time while also telling a fascinating story about a singular character.’

Other editions ofThe Freedom of Emma Herwegh
  • The Freedom of Emma Herwegh
    ISBN: 9781922791467
    28 November 2023
    Buy ebook