A German writer, chiefly of fantastic tales, he was born in Königsberg (now Kaliningrad) in 1776. Also an accomplished musician, while he was originally named Ernst Theodor Wilhelm Hoffmann, he renamed his third name Amadeus as a tribute to Mozart. He turned to writing in his thirties, having previously tried careers in law, musical composition, and graphic arts and painting. Among his most famous works are the short stories The Sandman, "The Nutcracker" and the novel "The Life and Opinions of the Tomcat Murr." Beyond Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker Ballet, he has also influenced other composers. His collections of short stories "Nightpieces" and "Fantasy Pieces" (as well as his own biography and character) form the basis of Jacques Offenbach's unfinished opera "The Tales of Hoffman," which premiered in 1881. Initially derided as not being refined or cultured enough, Hoffmann has since gained in stature, and is now seen as one of Germany's leading writers of the Romantic Period. He was certainly the best among them to make use of the possibilities of the bizarre. He died in Berlin in 1822 at the age of 46.

(sources for this write-up include Penguin Books and Project Gutenberg)