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 15. They were married the next year. On the surface, it was a fairy-tale marriage, all the more poignant, with hindsight, because her tragic death augured the twilight years of the Habsburg Empire.
First published in 1988, Brigitte Hamann's definitive biography tells Elisabeth's story from her birth into Bavarian nobility to her assassination at the hands of an Italian anarchist. In her lifetime she was idolised solely for her grace and beauty; but Hamann shows us a stronger character, bitter at her marriage, seeking independence, and struggling against the powerful influence of her mother-in-law, the Archduchess Sophie.
About the Author
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).