Michael Hofmann

Michael Hofmann (born 25 August 1957 in Freiburg, West Germany) is a German-born poet who writes in English and a translator of texts from German.

Michael Hofmann
Born (1957-08-25) 25 August 1957
Freiburg, West Germany
OccupationPoet, translator
GenreCriticism, poetry, translation


Michael Hofmann was born in Freiburg, West Germany into a family with a literary tradition. His father was the German novelist Gert Hofmann (died 1993). His maternal grandfather edited the Brockhaus Enzyklopädie.[1] Hofmann's family first moved to Bristol in 1961, and later to Edinburgh. He was educated at Winchester College[2] and then studied English Literature and Classics.

In 1979 he received a BA and in 1984 an MA from the University of Cambridge. In 1983 he started working as a freelance writer, translator, and literary critic.[3] Hofmann has held visiting professorships at the University of Michigan, Rutgers University, the New School University, Barnard College, and Columbia University. He was first a visitor to University of Florida in 1990, joined the faculty in 1994, and became full time in 2009. He has been teaching poetry and translation workshops.[4]

In 2008, Hofmann was Poet-in-Residence in the state of Queensland in Australia.

He has two sons, Max (1991) and Jakob (1993). He splits his time between Hamburg and Gainesville, Florida.


Hofmann received the Cholmondeley Award in 1984 for Nights in the Iron Hotel[5] and the Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize in 1988 for Acrimony.[6] The same year, he also received the Schlegel-Tieck Prize for his translation of Patrick Süskind's Der Kontrabaß (The Double Bass).[7] In 1993 he received the Schlegel-Tieck Prize again for his translation of Wolfgang Koeppen's Death in Rome.[7]

Hofmann was awarded the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize in 1995 for the translation of his father's novel The Film Explainer,[8] and Michael was nominated again in 2003 for his translation of Peter Stephan Jungk's The Snowflake Constant.[9] In 1997 he received the Arts Council Writer's Award for his collection of poems Approximately Nowhere,[8] and the following year he received the International Dublin Literary Award for his translation of Herta Müller's novel The Land of Green Plums.[8]

In 1999 Hofmann was awarded the PEN/Book-of-the-Month Club Translation Prize for his translation of Joseph Roth's The String of Pearls.[10] In 2000 Hofmann was selected as the recipient of the Helen and Kurt Wolff Translator's Prize for his translation of Joseph Roth's novel Rebellion (Die Rebellion).[11] In 2003 he received another Schlegel-Tieck Prize for his translation of his father's Luck,[7] and in 2004 he was awarded the Oxford-Weidenfeld Translation Prize for his translation of Ernst Jünger's Storm of Steel.[12] In 2005 Hofmann received his fourth Schlegel-Tieck Prize for his translation of Gerd Ledig's The Stalin Organ.[7] Hofmann served as a judge for the Griffin Poetry Prize in 2002, and in 2006 Hofmann made the Griffin's international shortlist for his translation of Durs Grünbein's Ashes for Breakfast.[13]

Selected bibliography


  • Hofmann, Michael (1984), Nights in the iron hotel, London: Faber and Faber, ISBN 978-0-571-13116-7
  • Hofmann, Michael (1986), Acrimony, London: Faber and Faber, ISBN 978-0-571-14528-7
  • Hofmann, Michael (1993), Corona, Corona, London: Faber and Faber, ISBN 978-0-571-17052-4
  • Hofmann, Michael (1999), Approximately nowhere: poems, London: Faber and Faber, ISBN 978-0-571-19524-4
  • Hofmann, Michael (2002), Behind the lines: pieces on writing and pictures, London: Faber and Faber, ISBN 978-0-571-19523-7
  • Hofmann, Michael (2014), Where Have You Been?: Selected Essays, New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, ISBN 978-0-374-25996-9
  • Hofmann, Michael (2018), One Lark, One Horse, London: Faber and Faber, ISBN 978-0-571-342297




  1. Michael Hofmann. Author Statement British Council, 2008
  2. Hofmann, Michael (7 October 1993). "Don't Blub". London Review of Books. 15 (19): 18–19.
  3. Brearton, Fran (1999), "An interview with Michael Hofmann: Where is our home key anyway?", Thumbscrew (3): 30–46, ISSN 1369-5371, retrieved 27 June 2007.
  4. Michael Hofmann University of Florida, Department of English Faculty. Retrieved 16 January 2018
  5. "Cholmondely Award for Poets (past winners)". The Society of Authors. 2007. Archived from the original on 10 February 2007. Retrieved 27 June 2007.
  6. Merrit, Moseley (2007). "The Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize". Archived from the original on 20 July 2011. Retrieved 27 June 2007.
  7. "Schlegel-Tieck Prize (past winners)". The Society of Authors. 2007. Archived from the original on 10 March 2007. Retrieved 27 June 2007.
  8. "Michael Hofmann". British Council Literature. British Council. Retrieved 14 January 2016.
  9. "Swedish author wins Independent Foreign Fiction Prize 2003". Arts Council England. 7 April 2003. Archived from the original on 29 September 2007. Retrieved 2 July 2007.
  10. "Book-of-the-Month-Club Translation Prize winners". PEN American Center. 2007. Archived from the original on 7 June 2011. Retrieved 2 July 2007.
  11. "Michael Hofmann recipient of the 2000 Helen and Kurt Wolff Translator's Prize". Goethe Institute. 2000. Retrieved 28 June 2007.
  12. "The Oxford-Weidenfeld Translation Prize (previous winners)". St. Anne's College. 2007. Retrieved 27 June 2007.
  13. "The Griffin Trust for Excellence in Poetry: Shortlist 2006 – Michael Hofmann". The Griffin Trust for Excellence in Poetry. 2007. Archived from the original on 1 July 2007. Retrieved 25 July 2007.
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