Garlieb Helwig Merkel was a Baltic German writer and activist and an early Estophile and Lettophile.
Merkel was born into the family of a rural priest in Livonia. From the age of 17, he worked as a tutor for upper-class families. In 1790, he joined the circle of Riga intellectuals. Influenced by the ideas he found there, he published the book Die Letten ("Latvians") in 1794, which described in the darkest terms the life of the peasantry and the atrocities of the Baltic German landown...more