Reinke's space is a critical laryngeal structure, and the eponym remains in current use in both clinical and research settings. However, little is known about the life of the German anatomist Friedrich Berthold Reinke. His name is missing from the otolaryngological histories, despite his work on the structure he described being responsible for a fundamental advance in our understanding of the larynx. Although brilliant, Reinke was described as impetuous and coarse by his colleagues, resulting in his academic career being cut short. Reinke's relative anonymity is thought to derive from the fact that he never defined himself as a laryngologist. Without question, Reinke's observations of the human vocal fold are substantive contributions, without which modern laryngology could not have evolved. This article aimed to summarise this brilliant yet troubled man's life and achievements, allowing appreciation for his singular genius and fundamental contribution to laryngology.