Wilhelm Bölsche (2 January 1861, Cologne, Rhenish Prussia – 31 August 1939, Schreiberhau, Riesengebirge) was a German author, editor and publicist.
Bölsche was born in Cologne. He studied from 1883 to 1885 philosophy, art history and archaeology in Bonn and moved 1885 to Berlin. In Berlin-Friedrichshagen he became a central figure in the “Friedrichshagener Dichterkreis“, a poets society. Although most of his work cover natural history topics, Boelsche was not a naturalist but a person who popularized natural matter as a layperson to an unaware public. Nevertheless, his publishing of “Das Liebesleben in der Natur“ (The Love Life in Nature) in 1898 was the key for creating modern fact books in Germany. Boelsche also initiated with Wilhelm Schwaner (1863 – 1944) a prequel of the first German folk high school, the “Freie Hochschule Berlin” in 1902 and was an important instigator for the “Lebensreformbewegung” (Humanistic naturalism – key note: “Back to Nature”) in Germany. Boelsche wrote for Freie Volksbühne and edited the most important cultural history review of the day, “Freie Bühne“ (Free Stage) and popularized his free-thinking monism knowledge - especially the innovating school of Charles Darwin and Ernst Haeckel in dozens of self-edited books and series released by Kosmos-Verlag in Stuttgart collaborating with the Berlin artist Heinrich Harder. He died in Schreiberhau.
As a compliment to his work, Boelsche was the name giver to a mountain ridge in the “Riesengebirge“ (Karkonosze Mountains), to a Berlin school (Realschule Bölsche – Oberschule), and to many streets in German towns, including the “Bölschestrasse“ in his former living district Berlin-Friedrichshagen. Even an asteroid was named after him – “1998 FC127“ now bearing the name 17821 Bölsche moving between Mars and Jupiter towards the sun.