Eberhard Lämmert was born in Bonn in 1924. He earned his doctorate in 1952 from the University of Bonn, where he also completed the habilitation process in 1960. He was a professor of German language and literature as well as world literature at the University of Heidelberg and Freie Universität, where he served as the president from 1976 to 1983. Lämmert was the director of the Peter Szondi Institute of Comparative Literature from 1983 until 1992, when he retired.
Eberhard Lämmert officiated as the founding chairperson of the board of trustees of the Potsdam Einstein Forum. He was also the founding director of the Center for Literary Research in Berlin and the director of the Center for European Enlightenment in Potsdam. He served as the president of the German Schiller Society (1988–2008), a member of the board and chairperson of the German Association of German Studies (1964–1976), a reviewer for the German Research Foundation (DFG), and a member of the board of trustees and of the board of directors of the German Academic Exchange Service (1970–1999). He was a visiting professor at prestigious universities around the world, including Princeton, Cambridge, St. Louis, and São Paulo.
Eberhard Lämmert's numerous publications transcend the boundaries of genres, national literatures, and eras. His doctoral dissertation entitled Bauformen des Erzählens (Types of Narrative) and published in 1955 became a classic of narrative theory. His habilitation thesis Reimsprecherkunst im Spätmittelalter (1970) was fundamental in reevaluating the scholarly approach to late medieval literature.