Born in Munich, the only son of a landscape painter and tubercular mother, whose malady he inherited. Tutored privately and at secondary school in Breslau. For a time a student of economics and politics at Breslau University, where he began to develop an intellectual humanitarianism. Estranged from his father in 1895, soon after his father's third marriage and a disagreement over money. Translated several plays of Ibsen's into German, and became friendly with Ibsen during his time in Scandinavia. Travelled extensively in Italy and Switzerland; resident thereafter primarily in Berlin. Famous from 1905 for his Galgenlieder, though he considered his serious, philosophical and mystical verse much more important. Became a member in 1909 of the Anthroposophical Society of Rudolf Steiner, whom he had heard lecture in Berlin and whom he followed on his lecture tours throughout Europe. Married in 1910, the year in which his health took a decisive turn for the worse. Largely resident in Swiss sanatoria in his last years, he died in private quarters near Merano at the age of forty-three, by which time his comic poems had sold in tens of thousands.
Morgenstern's reputation rests, uniquely among poets of distinction, on a body of work which falls squarely into a category that flouts all attempts to make sense of it: Nonsense poetry. So considerable is his achievement in this genre that it is customary to place him above even Lewis Carroll and Edward Lear, although by virtue of writing in German and not English his audience has been much smaller than theirs in global terms.As