Famous Austrian Poets

This ranking is based on an algorithm that combines various factors, including the votes of our users and search trends on the internet.

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 1 
Rainer Maria Rilke
(Poet & Novelist widely recognized as one of the most lyrically intense German-language poets.)

Rainer Maria Rilke
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Birthdate: December 4, 1875
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Prague, Czechia
Died: December 29, 1926

Bohemian-Austrian poet and author Rainer Maria Rilke is best remembered for his numerous poetry collections and his only novel, The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge. His works contain metaphors, contradictions, and elements drawn from Greek mythology. Though most of his works were in German, he had also written in French.

 2 
Peter Handke
(One of the Most Influential and Original German-Language Writers Known for His Work 'Offending the Audience')

Peter Handke
4
Birthdate: December 6, 1942
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Griffen, Austria

Peter Handke is an Austrian novelist, poet, translator, playwright, screenwriter, and film director. One of the most respected personalities in Austria, Handke has won several prestigious awards over the course of his career. In 1973, he was awarded the Georg Büchner Prize. In 1987, he won the Vilenica International Literary Prize. In 2019, he received the Nobel Prize in Literature.

 3 
Oskar Kokoschka
(Artist, Poet and Playwright)

Oskar Kokoschka
9
Birthdate: March 1, 1886
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Pöchlarn, Austria
Died: February 22, 1980

Austrian artist, playwright, poet and teacher Oskar Kokoschka CBE is counted among the prominent exponents of Expressionism whose works influenced the Viennese Expressionist movement. Notable works of Kokoschka include paintings like The Bride of the Wind and Portrait of Lotte Franzos and writings like the short play Murderer, the Hope of Women and the play Orpheus und Eurydike.   

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 4 
Guido von List
(Poet, Journalist, Novelist)

Guido von List
3
Birthdate: October 5, 1848
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Vienna, Austria
Died: May 17, 1919

 5 
Thomas Bernhard
(Former Writer who explored death, social injustice, and human misery in controversial literature)

Thomas Bernhard
4
Birthdate: February 9, 1931
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Heerlen, Netherlands
Died: February 12, 1989

Thomas Bernhard was born to an unwed mother in Holland and spent a lot of his adolescence in hospitals due to his chronic lung disease, which eventually claimed his life at age 58. He excelled in music and drama and gained fame for his controversial and pessimistic novels and plays.

 6 
Hugo von Hofmannsthal
(Novelist, Poet, Essayist)

Hugo von Hofmannsthal
3
Birthdate: February 1, 1874
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Landstraße, Vienna, Austria
Died: July 15, 1929

Known for his lyrical poetry and plays, Austrian author Hugo von Hofmannsthal had initially studied law and philology but later devoted his life to writing. His collaborative works with composer Richard Strauss included libretti for many of his operas, such as The Cavalier of the Rose and Arabella.

 7 
Franz Werfel
(Novelist, playwright, and poet whose career spanned World War I)

Franz Werfel
3
Birthdate: September 10, 1890
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Prague, Czechia
Died: August 26, 1945

Franz Werfel worked in a shipping house and fought in World War I before making his mark as an Expressionist poet. His fame rests on the iconic novels The Song of Bernadette and The Forty Days of Musa Dagh, with the former being turned into a four-time Academy Award-winning film.

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Walther von der Vogelweide
3
Birthdate: 1170 AD
Birthplace: Austria
Died: 1230 AD

One of the finest German lyric poets of the Middle Ages, Walther von der Vogelweide was a regular at various royal courts. His works mostly include love songs such as Under der linden, apart from elegies and religious poems. He had also been given a small fief by Frederick II.

Ingeborg Bachmann
3
Birthdate: June 25, 1926
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Klagenfurt, Austria
Died: October 17, 1973

Ingeborg Bachmann completed her PhD and worked as an editor and scriptwriter before plunging into full-time writing. The Gruppe 47 member was known for depicting the trauma of women characters who had failed in relationships. She is best remembered for her poems and her lyrical novel Malina.

 10 
Ernst Fuchs
(Former artist who was one of the founders of the Vienna School of Fantastic Realism)

Ernst Fuchs
3
Birthdate: February 13, 1930
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Vienna, Austria
Died: November 9, 2015

Paintings, sculpture, and prints of Austrian painter, sculptor, poet, composer, singer, architect, draftsman, printmaker, and stage designer Ernst Fuchs addressed themes of religion and mysticism. Student of the Vienna Academy of Fine Arts, Fuchs co-founded the Vienna School of Fantastic Realism. He acquired the Otto Wagner Villa in Hütteldorf, which was later transformed and inaugurated as the Ernst Fuchs Museum.

Archduke Wilhelm of Austria
3
Birthdate: February 10, 1895
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Lošinj, Croatia
Died: August 18, 1948

Archduke Wilhelm of Austria, or Vasyl Vyshyvani, the son of Archduke Karl Stephan, had been a Ukrainian army colonel. He had also served as a spy for the French and the British, against the Nazis and the Soviets. It is believed he was homosexual and a fine poet, too.

 12 

Franz Grillparzer
3
Birthdate: January 15, 1791
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Vienna, Austria
Died: January 21, 1872

Franz Grillparzer had a tough life, with his father dying in debt and his mother having committed suicide. He studied law and then worked as a government clerk before discovering his passion for writing. Known for his tragedies such as Sappho, he became one of the finest Austrian dramatists ever.

 13 

Adalbert Stifter
3
Birthdate: October 23, 1805
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Kingdom of Bohemia
Died: January 28, 1868

The son of an affluent weaver and merchant, Adalbert Stifter had initially studied law but quit without earning a degree. He later turned to writing and created masterpieces such as Witiko and Der Nachsommer. His tales mostly had pastoral backdrops, influenced by the countryside he grew up in.

Oswald von Wolkenstein
3
Birthdate: 1377 AD
Birthplace: Pfalzen, Italy
Died: August 2, 1445

Known as the "one-eyed singer" because of his dropping right eye caused due to an injury, Oswald von Wolkenstein was one of the last troubadours. Known for his autobiographical lyrics, he was named Knight of the Holy Sepulchre. He had also been a diplomat and military commander to Emperor Sigismund.

 15 
Arik Brauer
(Painter)

Arik Brauer
2
Birthdate: January 4, 1929
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Vienna, Austria
Died: January 24, 2021

Painter, printmaker, singer-songwriter, dancer, poet, academic teacher, architect and stage designer Arik Brauer was reputed as a Universalkünstler (all-round artist) in Austria. He featured as a singer-songwriter at the start of Austropop, co-founded the Vienna School of Fantastic Realism and taught at the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna. His art was exhibited at many galleries and museums across the globe.  

 16 

Ilse Aichinger
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Birthdate: November 1, 1921
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Vienna, Austria
Died: November 11, 2016

Ilse Aichinger and her twin sister, Helga, were half-Jews and were thus forbidden to study by the Nazis and sent to a button factory as laborers instead. Following World War II, she studied medicine but later quit studies to pen her harrowing experiences in her bestselling novel The Greater Hope.

 17 

Franz Paul Wright
2
Birthdate: March 18, 1953
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Vienna, Austria
Died: May 14, 2015

Franz Wright was an award-winning American poet and the son of noted American poet James Wright. He won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 2004 for Walking to Martha's Vineyard while his father won the Pulitzer Prize for the latter’s 1972 Collected Poems. This made them the only parent/child pair who won the Pulitzer Prize in the same category.   

 18 

Nikolaus Lenau
2
Birthdate: August 13, 1802
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Lenauheim, Romania
Died: August 22, 1850

Nikolaus Lenau’s works depicted the pessimism and gloom that surrounded him throughout his life. He had started but not completed studies in medicine, law, and philosophy. He is remembered for his signature melancholy lyrical verse found in works such as Gedichte. His final years were plagued by mental illnesses.

 19 

Johann Nestroy
2
Birthdate: December 7, 1801
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Vienna, Austria
Died: May 25, 1862

Austrian singer, actor, and playwright Johann Nestroy was part of the popular Austrian tradition of the Biedermeier era in Central Europe. He took part in the Revolutions of 1848 and the new liberal spirit which was spreading across Europe at that time reflected in his works. He penned around 80 comedies, including Einen Jux will er sich machen.

 20 

Ernst Jandl
2
Birthdate: August 1, 1925
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Vienna, Austria
Died: June 9, 2000

Best known as a member of the avant-garde group Wiener Gruppe, Austrian poet Ernst Jandl experimented with what is known as the sound poem, such as Ottos Mops, which only used the vowel “o.” He was influenced by Dadaism and revolutionized poetry with his experimental lyrics.

 21 
Gerd Honsik
(Writer)

Gerd Honsik
2
Birthdate: October 10, 1941
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Vienna, Austria
Died: April 7, 2018

Neo-Nazi Austrian author and poet Gerd Honsik, also known by his pseudonym, Endsik, was a prominent Holocaust denier. Jailed many times for his far-right extremism, he had also released anti-Semitic books and hate magazines. He was also a member of the now-banned far-right party NDP.

 22 

Peter Rosegger
2
Birthdate: July 31, 1843
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Alpl, Austria
Died: June 26, 1918

Born to a peasant, Peter Rosegger initially traveled around as a tailor. He grew up to write iconic works that reflected rural life and the need for social reform. The three-time Nobel Prize nominee is best remembered for his works such as The Forest Farm and The Forest Schoolmaster.

Alexander Lernet-Holenia
1
Birthdate: October 21, 1897
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Vienna, Austria
Died: July 3, 1976

Best known for his novel Die Standarte and his plays such as Austrian Comedy and Mishmash, Austrian author and poet Alexander Lernet-Holenia had initially studied law and also fought in World War I. During World War II, he traveled as part of an army film unit.

 24 

Josef Weinheber
1
Birthdate: March 9, 1892
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Vienna, Austria
Died: April 8, 1945

Orphaned as a child, Josef Weinheber initially grew up in an orphanage and then lived with his aunt. Starting his career as a postal service worker, he later gained fame with books such as Nobleness and Extinction. A Nazi favorite, he killed himself as the Red Army marched into Vienna.

 25 

Petr Bezruč
1
Birthdate: September 15, 1867
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Opava, Czechia
Died: February 17, 1958

Regarded as the Czech national poet, Vladimír Vašek is best known by his pseudonym, Petr Bezruč. Although he worked as a postal officer throughout his life, Bezruč created masterpieces such as Silesian Songs, which is a collection of his poems on the Czech Silesia and its people.

Anton Alexander von Auersperg
1
Birthdate: April 11, 1806
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Ljubljana, Slovenia
Died: September 12, 1876

Austrian poet Anton Alexander von Auersperg is best known by his pseudonym, Anastasius Grun. His collection of poems, such as Schutt, ushered in a new and bold liberalism in Germany. His work also showcases his signature ironic humor. Grun was also known for his translations of Slovenic songs.

 27 

Ludwig Anzengruber
1
Birthdate: November 29, 1839
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Vienna, Austria
Died: December 10, 1889

After losing his father at 5, Ludwig Anzengruber grew up amid poverty. A school drop-out, he eventually found work at a bookstore and then stepped into acting, too. He later ventured into writing and penned some of the most loved plays of his time, such as The Pastor of Kirchfeld.

 28 

Robert Hamerling
1
Birthdate: March 24, 1830
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Kirchberg am Walde, Austria
Died: July 13, 1889

Robert Hamerling was born into poverty but secured a place at the University of Vienna with financial assistance from people who were impressed by his talent in poetry. He is best remembered for his poems such as A Swan Song of the Romantic and Ahasuerus in Rome.

 29 

Rudolf von Ems
1
Birthdate: 1200 AD
Birthplace: Austria
Died: 1254 AD

Thirteenth-century Middle High German poet Rudolf von Ems was a knight of the counts of Montfort. Though he was one of the greatest poets of his time, only few of his works, such as Gerhard the Good, were preserved. His epic poems are characterized by their originality.

 30 

Theodor Däubler
0
Birthdate: August 17, 1876
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Trieste, Italy
Died: June 14, 1934

Mostly known for his poem Das Nordlicht, Austro-Hungarian poet Theodor Däubler went down in history as one of the greatest German-language writers and Expressionist poets. Apart from living in Italy, he was a well-traveled man, too, and had been around Europe, Egypt, and the Middle East.

 31 
Georg Trakl
(Expressionist poet known for Der Herbst des Einsamen (The Autumn of The Lonely))

Georg Trakl
3
Birthdate: February 3, 1887
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Salzburg, Austria
Died: November 3, 1914

Georg Trakl had had a tumultuous early life, having been addicted to drugs, apart from being attracted to his own sister. He initially aspired to be a pharmacist but later became one of Austria’s finest elegists. The Expressionist poet wrote masterpieces such as Grodek. He died of a drug overdose.

 32 

Anton Wildgans
0
Birthdate: April 17, 1881
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Vienna, Austria
Died: May 3, 1932

Four-time Nobel Prize in Literature nominee Anton Wildgans had worked as a magistrate before taking up writing as a full-time profession. A major figure of German Expressionism, he is remembered for his poems and plays such as Herbstfrühling and Armut, and also showcased realism and neo-romanticism in his works.