Books on Elisabeth

Some Books on Elisabeth and Related Topics

More to come if I ever find time to read the books in question!
  1. Books about Elisabeth
    • The Reluctant Empress (original German title: Kaiserin wider Willen)
      by Brigitte Hamann; English translation by Ruth Hein
      Out of print in the US; English version easily available in Vienna, from the British Bookshop and the gift shops at the Hofburg and (I assume) Schönbrunn
      Highly recommended! Well-researched and well-written, and the most seemingly unbiased account of the Empress I have read. It can be found in some libraries, and is definitely worth tracking down.
    • Elisabeth: Bilder einer Kaiserin
      edited by Brigitte Hamann
      Coffee table book containing black and white reproductions of numerous photos and portraits of Elisabeth and her family. (My copy was found in a used book store in New Hampshire, of all places!)
    • Sissi: the Tragic Empress
      by Ludwig Merkle; English translation by Ingrid Taylor
      Paperback coffee table book with, again, numorous portrait reproductions--mostly in colour. The text, however, leaves much to be desired. I don't know if this one was ever actually published in the US.
    • Forget Me Not: The True Story of Elisabeth of Austria and the Mysterious Habsburg Curse (formerly published as Martyrdom of an Empress)
      anonymous; supposedly written by Elisabeth's "closest companion", and originally published the year after her death
      Available in paperback in the US for only $2.95, and as biased as one would expect from the titles. One day I may actually read the rest of it, and I expect it to be quite amusing. Just in the first third or so, there are so many blatant factual errors (I mean, really, since when was Elisabeth Duke Max's youngest daughter at the time of her engagement?!?) that they alone make it even more ridiculous as a biography than the first one I ever read of her--which presented Elisabeth as a little saint who could do no wrong. Yes, definitely amusing.
    • Death By Fame
      byAndrew Sinclair
      I've not gotten around to reading this one yet; it's brand new--first published in 1998, first US edition 1999. I have glanced at a few of the events which seem to have the most...confusion...surrounding them, based on the widely differing accounts in the various books, and overall this one doesn't generally present the versions I personally believe most likely to be true, but it also doesn't often seriously suggest the most ridiculous ones, either.
  2. Books about Elisabeth and Franz Joseph
    • The Eagles Die: Franz Joseph, Elisabeth, and Their Austria
      by George R. Marek
      Like Reluctant Empress, out of print in the US but found in some libraries (public as well as university), plus the occasional used book store. Another relatively well-researched book, although there is too much focus on the political situations faced by Franz Joseph for my personal interests. Not as engaging as the Hamann, but worth a look.
    • Golden Fleece
      by Bertita Harding
      I read this one a couple of years before starting these pages, and when I later found it in a used bookstore (for only $8!), I bought it on general principles, and haven't bothered rereading it. However, flipping through it I noticed that there is rather more dialogue than I feel comfortable with in a supposedly historical work.
  3. Books about Crown Prince Rudolf
    • Rudolf: Crown Prince and Rebel
      by Brigitte Hamann
      Actually, it appears that this was never translated into English. Any information to the contrary would be greatly appreciated, as I would very much like to read it, and am not about to attempt the German!
    • Crime at Mayerling: the Life and Death of Mary Vetsera
      by Georg Markus; English translation by Carvel de Bussy
      Still in print in the US, from Ariadne Press (retail $14.95; I can supply the ISBN to anyone interested). Although officially about Mary, this book contains a great deal of interest regarding Rudolf as well, and the whole Mayerling affair.
    • Royal Rebel: a Psychological Portrait of Crown Prince Rudolf of Austria-Hungary
      by John T. Salvendy
      In print, but ridiculously expensive--$47.50 for a book less than an inch thick, with really really poor typesetting (and not enough editing--comma placement is atrocious!). However, I found it quite fascinating. What can I say, I like Rudolf....
    • Crown Prince Rudolf: His Mysterious Life After Mayerling
      by Dr. Enrique Lardé
      Another with a title too funny for me to resist! Still in print, but only worth it for humour value. The author claims that Rudolf's suicide was a fake, to cover up the fact that he was being sent into exile for political reasons, and that he spent the rest of his life (until 1936) in South America. Barefoot. Oh, and he was the author's father. Whatever.
    • A Nervous Splendor: Vienna 1888/1889
      by Frederic Morton
      Easily obtainable in the US, this is more of a general account of Vienna in the last year of Rudolf's life, using the Crown Prince as a focus.

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