Elisabeth Hauptmann born in 1897 in the North Rhine-Westphalia area of present day Germany. She was a writer, who began her career working as the secretary for the German-American poet Herman George Scheffauer. However, she is best known today for her work with Bertolt Brecht. She first met Brecht in 1922, the same year she came to work in Berlin. She is believed to have begun collaborating with him in 1924, and is listed as a co-author of The Threepenny Opera (1928). Hauptmann reportedly provided the German translation of John Gay's The Beggar's Opera for Brecht and Kurt Weill to work from and is believed to have written the majority of the text. Hauptmann previously worked on The Mahagonny Songspiel (1927) with Brecht and Weill, although she is uncredited. However, she is listed as the author of their next collaboration, Happy End, in 1929.
In the lead up the World War Two and the rise of the Nazi Party, Hauptmann left Germany to head into exile in the United States in 1934. She remained there until 1949 and married the German composer Paul Dessau in 1943. Dessau was also one of Brecht's main collaborators. Following Brecht's death in 1956, Hauptmann published a collection of his works and worked as a dramaturg for the Berlin Ensemble, the theatre company established by Brecht in East Germany. In 1961, she received the Lessing Award from East Germany's Ministry of Culture. A collection of her own works was published in 1977 under the name of "Julia ohne Romeo" (Julia without Romeo). Hauptmann died in East Germany in 1973.
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