(b Kamenz, Jan 21, 1729; d Brunswick, Feb 15, 1781).
German philosopher, critic and playwright. He was the leading representative of the German Enlightenment in the theatre and in criticism. Lessing studied theology at the University of Leipzig from 1746 to 1748, changing his faculty to medicine shortly before moving to Berlin. He was in Berlin intermittently until 1760, when he became secretary to the Prussian General von Tauentzien in Breslau (now Wrocław, Poland), remaining there until 1765. In 1767 he went to the liberal trading city of Hamburg in the hope of founding a German national theatre, and from 1770 until his death was the librarian to the Prince of Brunswick at Wolfenbüttel.
During Lessing’s first stay in Berlin he contributed a series of brilliant articles to the Vossische Zeitung, a journal of popular philosophy dedicated to the propagation of Enlightenment ideas. His first major critical works were his contributions to Briefe, die neueste Literatur betreffend (1759–65), along with Moses Mendelssohn (...