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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Initially aspiring to be a lawyer, Austrian writer Karl Kraus later deviated to philosophy and German literature before quitting studies altogether. He had also been a stage performer but later made his mark as one of the finest aphorists and playwrights in German history, with works such as Nights.
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.
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, 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.