Wilhelm Richard Wagner was born on May 22, 1813, in Leipzig, Germany, to a baker's daughter, Johanna Rosine and her husband Carl Friedrich Wagner, a clerk in the police service.
His father, who was a minor municipal official, died six months after Richard's birth. In August 1814, his mother married the actor Ludwig Geyer and moved with her family to his residence in Dresden. Geyer, who, it has been claimed, may have been the boy's actual father, died when Richard was eight. Wagner was largely brought up by a single mother.