German scholar and adventurer best remembered as the original author of the popular tall tales The adventures of Baron Münchhausen.
After having studied natural sciences and philology at Göttingen and Leipzig he worked in several university libraries before being appointed librarian and custodian of the Landgraf´s collection of gems and coins at Kassel in 1767.
One of the first to interest himself in Ossian, the supposed author of epic poetry discovered in Scotland and in Percy´s Reliques of Ancient English Poetry a collection of old ballads and poems first published in England in 1765, he acquired a scholarly reputation and was elected to the Royal Society in 1769.
In 1775 he began stealling from the Landgraf´s gem collection and had to flee to England to escape arrest.
While living there as a fugitive and in need of money Raspe succeeded in publishing anonymously a collection of humorous and highly coloured stories as related by the braggart Münchhausen on his travels to Russia.
Raspe had known the Baron in Göttingen but few of the tales were actually derived from him.
In 1786 and again in 1788 the German poet G.A. Bürger translated and considerably enlarged Raspe´s tales.
Bürger´s translations served to introduce Münchhausen to world literature and Raspe´s authorship of the original was not revealed until 1847 by Heinrich Döring in his biography of Bürger.
Becoming involved in a swindle concerned with mining in Scotland he fled to Ireland in 1791 where he died.