Born at Ehrenbreitstein to a merchant family of Italian origin, Brentano enjoyed a
close relationship with his sister Bettina, later wife of Achim von Arnim. Their parents
died in 1793 and 1797 after which Brentano studied mining and finance in Halle and
medicine in Jena and moved with several important figures of the era becoming a
member of the Heidelberg romantic circle.
His first marriage to the poet Sophie Mereau in 1803 lasted less than 3 years until
her death in childbirth in 1806 during which period he started collaboration with
Achim von Arnim on Des Knaben Wunderhorn, a collection of German folk songs and
poems which became influential to later artists of the romantic era. He married the
younger Auguste Busmann in 1807 but unhappiness drove him to an unsettled existence.
He moved to Berlin until 1818 after which he withdrew to a monastery in Dülmen,
Westphalia becoming secretary to a visionary nun until her death in 1824.
He continued to exercise his faith in Regensburg, Frankfurt and Munich dying
He was an important member of the romantic movement writing poetry characterised
by imagery and expression as well as several plays.