The German writer Adelheid Wette was the younger sister of composer Engelbert Humperdinck; she played a major role in encouraging the family's interest in folk songs and folk tales. The poems written by Humperdinck's sister and father would provide material for the composer to set to music throughout his entire life. Adelheid married a Cologne doctor named Hermann Wette, who himself wrote two librettos, both folk-like in tone, for Arnold Mendelssohn.
The basis for Adelheid's own libretto for Hänsel und Gretel was a series of folk songs, four of which the writer asked her brother to set to music in 1890. This initiative developed into the complete opera which, nevertheless, preserved a simple tone. Wette also wrote the text for two other singspiels of Humperdinck's: Schneewittchen (“Snow White”) and Die sieben Geisslein (“The Seven Little Kids”).