Else was born in Elberfeld, Wuppertal, to the Schüler banking family as the youngest of six
children. She showed intellectual talent at a young age having learned to read and write by
four years old. She was early acquainted with tragedy at the death of her favourite brother,
Paul, when she was aged thirteen followed by her mother when she was twenty one.
She married the doctor, Jonathan Lasker, in 1894, moved to Berlin and began a literary career
in publishing Styx, her first volume of poetry, in 1901. She divorced in 1903, however, and
married Georg Lewin, known as Herwath Walden, later that year but she parted from him in
1910 and was divorced two years later after which she became dependent upon friends for
She formed a close relationship with Gottfried Benn who, many years later, praised her as the
greatest lyric writer that Germany had had.
After threats from the National Socialist movement, she moved to Zurich in 1933 but the
authorities forbade her a work permit. She consequently undertook visits to Palestine where,
from 1939, she remained after her German nationality had been revoked in 1938. Despite some
support from admirers, she lived in straightened circumstances in a society where the
German language was not permitted.
She died of a heart attack in January 1945 and was interred in the Mount of Olives graveyard.
She is remembered as a poet, dramatist and artist and regarded by some as the forerunner
in modern German lyric poetry.