From 1836 to 1839, he studied theology and philology at the University of Breslau, where he attended lectures on German language and literature given by Hoffmann von Fallersleben. He then served as a private tutor under the employ of Graf von Wylich und Lottum. Afterwards, he travelled to the Berlin, where he studied under Karl Lachmann and the Brothers Grimm. In 1847 he began work at the university library in Halle and assumed duties as secretary of the Thüringisch-sächsischen Vereins zur Erforschung der vaterländischen Alterthümer (Thuringian-Saxon Society for the study of Patriotic Antiquities).
In 1853 he qualified as a lecturer at Halle with the thesis, Desquistionis grammaticae de alphabetic gothici ulphilani origine atque indoles particular. In 1856 he became an associate professor, and three years later, transferred to Königsberg as chair of German philology and chief librarian. In 1863 he returned as a professor to Halle, where he gave classes in German grammar, metrics and mythology.