Marlen Haushofer

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Marlen Haushofer (born Marie Helene Frauendorfer; 11 April 1920 – 21 March 1970) was an Austrian author, most famous for her novel The Wall (1963).[1]


Marie Helene Frauendorfer was born in Frauenstein in Upper Austria. She attended Catholic boarding school in Linz, and went on to study German literature in Vienna and in Graz. After her school years she settled in Steyr.

In 1941, she married Manfred Haushofer, a dentist, and had two sons, Christian and Manfred.[2] They divorced in 1950, only to remarry each other in 1958.


Earning literary awards as early as 1953, Haushofer went on to publish her first novel, A Handful of Life in 1955. In 1956, she won the Theodor Körner Prize for early contributions and projects involving art and culture. In 1958, her novella We Murder Stella was published.

The Wall, considered her finest achievement, was completed in 1963.[3] The novel was written out four times in longhand between 1960 and 1963.[4] In a letter written to a friend in 1961, Marlen describes the difficulty with its composition:

I am writing on my novel and everything is very cumbersome because I never have much time, and mainly because I can not embarrass myself. I must continuously inquire whether what I say about animals and plants is actually correct. One can not be precise enough. I would be very happy, indeed, if I were able to write the novel only half as well as I am imagining it in my mind.[4]

Haushofer commented a year later in a letter to the same friend:

I am extremely industrious. My novel is completed in its first draft. I have already completed one hundred pages of the rewrite. Altogether there will be 360 pages. Writing strains me a great deal and I suffer from headaches. But I hope that I will be finished by the beginning of May (I must allow at least four weeks for the typing)... And the household must keep on running also. All that is very difficult for me because I can only concentrate on one thing and forcing me to be versatile makes me extremely nervous. I have the feeling as if I were writing into the air.[4]

Her autobiographical account of a childhood, Nowhere Ending Sky, was published in 1966. Her overall addition to Austrian literature, as well as her last short-story collection, Terrible Faithfulness, earned her a Grand Austrian State Prize for literature in 1968.[5] Her last novel, The Loft, was published in 1969.[4]

Death and legacy[edit]

Haushofer's grave in Steyr City Cemetery

In 1970, she died of bone cancer at a clinic in Vienna. Her writing has influenced authors like Nobel Prize winner Elfriede Jelinek, who dedicated one of her Princess Plays to Haushofer.[6] She was cremated at Feuerhalle Simmering, after which her ashes were buried in Steyr City Cemetery.


  • Eine Handvoll Leben (1955). A Handful of Life
  • Die Tapetentür (1957). The Jib Door, trans. by Jerome Carlton Samuelson (1998)
  • Wir töten Stella (1958, novella). We Murder Stella
  • Die Wand (1963). The Wall, trans. by Shaun Whiteside (1990)
  • Himmel, der nirgendwo endet (1966). Nowhere Ending Sky, trans. by Amanda Prantera (2013)[7]
  • Schreckliche Treue (1968, short stories). Terrible Faithfulness
  • Die Mansarde (1969). The Loft, trans. by Amanda Prantera (2011)[8]


  1. ^ Spice, Nicholas (18 December 2014). "She shall be nameless". London Review of Books. Vol. 36, no. 24. ISSN 0260-9592. Retrieved 20 September 2021.
  2. ^ Wassenberg, Charlotte (1998). "Autorendatenbank". Marlen Haushofer. SG Sint Ursula. Archived from the original on 7 February 2012. Retrieved 7 April 2013.
  3. ^ Haushofer, Marlen (1990). The Wall. Translated by Shaun Whiteside. San Francisco, CA: Cleis Press. ISBN 1-57344-094-9.
  4. ^ a b c d Cornick, Lisa (Spring 1992). "Identity in Women's Writings: The Proclivity of Solitude and Self – Marlen Haushofer's Austrian Utopia and Anna LaBastille's American Wilderness". Mount Olive Review: Images of Women in Literature. North Carolina. 6: 25–36.
  5. ^ Gotschi, Beatrix (2010). "Marlen Haushofer Biografie". Marlen Haushofer. Verein Kultur Plus – EuroJournal. Retrieved 7 April 2013.
  6. ^ Jelinek, Elfriede (2005), Princess Dramas – The Wall, translated by Lilian Friedberg, retrieved 10 April 2013
  7. ^ Haushofer, Marlen (2013). Nowhere Ending Sky. Translated by Amanda Prantera. Quartet Books. ISBN 0-7043-7313-0. Original title: Himmel, der nirgendwo endet.
  8. ^ Haushofer, Marlen (2011). The Loft. Translated by Amanda Prantera. Quartet Books. ISBN 0-7043-7207-X. Original title: Die Mansarde.

Further reading[edit]

  • Strigl, Daniela (2007). "Wahrscheinlich bin ich verrückt ... " Marlen Haushofer – die Biographie [I'm Probably Crazy] (in German). Berlin. ISBN 978-3-548-60784-9. OCLC 188189780.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link)

External links[edit]