Beside Heine’s Lorelei, Mignon (from French “cute”, “darling”) has become the most successful heroine of German literature with a European-wide echo in fiction, music, and painting since her appearance as an enigmatic character in Goethe’s Wilhelm Meisters Lehrjahre [Wilhelm Meister’s Apprenticeship, 1795-96] and the first separate publication of her four songs in 1815. After Wilhelm buys her freedom from a brutal circus-troupe director, who had abducted her in Italy and used her as an acrobat in a male outfit, she devotes herself completely to her savior whom she grows to love in secret and unrequited. What shaped her reception as a larger-than-life figure is her mysterious …
Hoffmeister, Gerhart. "Goethe's Mignon and Her Reception". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 11 October 2011; last revised 30 November -1.
[http://www.litencyc.com/php/stopics.php?rec=true&UID=17656, accessed 26 April 2015.]