ROSEGGER, PETER (1843- ), Austrian poet and novelist, known down to 1894 under the pseudonym Petri Kettenjeier, was born at Alpl near Krieglach in Upper Styria, on the 31st of July 1843, the son of a peasant. Until his seventeenth year he was employed as a farm hand and received no regular school education, though he learnt reading and writing from a retired schoolmaster who lived near. Unfit, owing to physical weakness, for the hard labour of agriculture, he was apprenticed to a journeyman tailor, and on his wanderings employed his leisure hours in educating himself. He soon composed poems and wrote stories. Some of these productions he sent in 1864 to Dr Svoboda, the editor of the Graz Tagespost, who, recognizing Rosegger's extraordinary talent, interested himself in the young author, and with the assistance of friends enabled him to study (from 1865-69) at the Handelsakademie of Graz. In 1869, encouraged by Robert Hamerling, Rosegger published his first work, a volume of poems in Styrian dialect, Zither und Hackbrett, which immediately established his reputation. As a result, the provincial diet of Styria accorded him a substantial stipendium (scholarship) for three years, which enabled him to supplement his studies by foreign travel. He now devoted himself entirely to authorship, and in 1876 founded the monthly periodical Der Heimgarten. On the occasion of the centenary of its reorganization the University of Heidelberg conferred upon him, in 1903, the honorary degree of doctor of philosophy.
Rosegger is one of the most fertile authors of recent times. His fresh natural style, sound judgment and his fascinating descriptions of Alpine scenery and the life of its inhabitants have made him one of the most popular authors of Austria and Germany. These characteristics are displayed to great advantage in Die Schriften des Waldschulmeisters (1875), Aus meinem Handwerkerleben (1880), Alpengeschichten (1896), Als ich nochjungwar (1895), and in the lovestory Mann und Weib (1879), while his simple religious mind is shown in Mein Himmelreich (1901), Erdsegen (1900) and Das ewige Licht (1897), and his attachment to friends in Cute Kameraden (1893) and Personliche Erinnerungen an Robert Hamerling (1891). Among his other works may be mentioned a volume of poems, Gedichte (1891), a popular play, Am Tage des Gerichts (1892), two books for boys, Waldferien (1887) and Waldjugend (1900), and the stories Das Sunderglockl (1904), Wildlinge (1906) and I. N.R.I. Frohe Botschaft eines armen Sunders (1905), which has also been translated into English. He has also written several works which are autobiographical in character, such as Waldheimat (1873) and Mein Weltleben (1898).
Rosegger's Ausgewahlte Schriften appeared in thirty volumes (1881-94) ; a popular edition (1895-1900) ; his Schriften in steirischer Mundart (3 vols., 1894-96). See also A. V. Svoboda, P. K. Rosegger (1886); A. Stern, Studien zur Literatur der Gegenwart (1895); and H. Mobius, P. Rosegger (1903).
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)