Thea Gabriele von Harbou (27 December 1888 - 1 July 1954) was a German screenwriter, novelist, film director, and actress. She is especially known as the screenwriter of the science fiction film classic Metropolis and the story on which it was based. Von Harbou collaborated as a screenwriter with film director Fritz Lang, her husband, during the period of transition from silent to sound films.
Thea von Harbou was born in Tauperlitz, Bavaria, in 1888, into a family of minor nobility and government officials, which gave her a level of sophisticated comfort. As a child she was educated in a convent by private tutors who taught her several languages as well as piano and violin. She was a child prodigy. Her first works, a short story published in a magazine and a volume of poems published privately, focused on perceptions of art, subjects considered unusual for a girl of thirteen. Despite her privileged childhood, von Harbou wanted to earn a living on her own, which led her to become an actress despite her father's disapproval.
Von Harbou often developed her screenplays into full length novels, with their publication scheduled to coincide with the release of the film, though this was not the case with Metropolis (1927), one of her most famous works. Von Harbou was a central player in producing Metropolis, and this epic film became not only one of Fritz Lang's best known films, but one of significance to German cinema. Besides writing the novel and the screenplay, and developing the distinct moral ending of Metropolis, she discovered Gustav Fröhlich, who played the lead role of Freder Fredersen.