Having trained as a bookseller, the Hungarian-born Samuel Fischer (1859–1934) founded the S. Fischer Verlag in Berlin in 1886. This publishing house quickly developed into a focal point of literary and intellectual life in Germany. Among the world-famous authors whose works it published were Gerhart Hauptmann (1862–1946), Arthur Schnitzler (1862–1931), Thomas Mann (1875–1955), Hugo von Hofmannsthal 1874–1929), Walther Rathenau (1867–1922) and Hermann Hesse (1877–1962), among others.
From 1905, Samuel Fischer lived in Berlin’s Grunewald district (see Home of Samuel Fischer).
Despite book-burnings, censorship and the persecution of Jews, the publisher did not want to believe that the Nazis posed a serious threat to his publishing house. Emigration was out of the question for him. Ultimately, it was his son-in-law Gottfried Berman-Fischer (1897–1995) who kept the enterprise going in exile during the Nazi period. Fischer himself died of old age in 1934.