The Reluctant Empress: A Biography of Empress Elisabeth of Austria

Faber & Faber, Limited, 2010 - 450 Seiten

Empress Elisabeth of Austria, known to her family as Sisi, belongs to a famous love story of European royalty - in 1853 the Emperor Franz Josef, the most eligible bachelor in Europe, fell in love with her at first sight when she was fifteen; they were married the next year. On the surface, it was a fairytale marriage, all the more poignant, with hindsight, because her death signalled the twilight years of the Habsburg Empire.

At the time of its first publication in 1988, Brigitte Hamann's biography, which tells Elisabeth's story from her birth as a member of the Bavarian nobility to her assassination at the hands of an Italian anarchist, led to a revised and deeper understanding of Elisabeth. During her lifetime she was idolised solely for her grace and beauty; now, for the first time, the Empress was portrayed as a stronger character, bitter at her marriage, seeking independence, and struggling against the powerful influence of her mother-in-law, the Archduchess Sophie. Researched by a respected historian, this is the definitive account of Elisabeth's life, death and legacy.

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Brigitte Hamann (b. 1940) is an author and historian based in Vienna. She was born in Essen, Germany, and studied history in Münster and Vienna before returning to Essen to work as a journalist. In 1965 she married the historian and academic Günther Hamann (1924-1994), moved to Vienna and took joint Austrian-German citizenship. She earned her doctorate at the University of Vienna with a 1978 thesis on the life of Crown Prince Rudolf of Austria, published in book form that same year. Her first work to be translated into English was The Reluctant Empress: A Biography of Empress Elisabeth of Austria (1986, later reissued in Faber Finds). Subsequent books have included Hitler's Vienna: A Dictator's Apprenticeship (1999) and Winifred Wagner: A Life at the Heart of Hitler's Bayreuth (2005).

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