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The Most Famous

WRITERS from Austria

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This page contains a list of the greatest Austrian Writers. The pantheon dataset contains 5,755 Writers, 68 of which were born in Austria. This makes Austria the birth place of the 19th most number of Writers behind Norway and Hungary.

Top 10

The following people are considered by Pantheon to be the top 10 most legendary Austrian Writers of all time. This list of famous Austrian Writers is sorted by HPI (Historical Popularity Index), a metric that aggregates information on a biography’s online popularity. Visit the rankings page to view the entire list of Austrian Writers.

Photo of Franz Kafka

1. Franz Kafka (1883 - 1924)

With an HPI of 86.23, Franz Kafka is the most famous Austrian Writer.  His biography has been translated into 159 different languages on wikipedia.

Franz Kafka (in Czech: František Kafka; 3 July 1883 – 3 June 1924) was a German-speaking Bohemian Jewish novelist and writer from Prague. He is widely regarded as one of the major figures of 20th-century literature. His work fuses elements of realism and the fantastic. It typically features isolated protagonists facing bizarre or surrealistic predicaments and incomprehensible socio-bureaucratic powers. It has been interpreted as exploring themes of alienation, existential anxiety, guilt, and absurdity. His best known works include the novella The Metamorphosis and novels The Trial and The Castle. The term Kafkaesque has entered English to describe absurd situations like those depicted in his writing.Kafka was born into a middle-class German-speaking Czech Jewish family in Prague, the capital of the Kingdom of Bohemia, then part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire (today the capital of the Czech Republic). He trained as a lawyer, and after completing his legal education was employed full-time by an insurance company, forcing him to relegate writing to his spare time. Over the course of his life, Kafka wrote hundreds of letters to family and close friends, including his father, with whom he had a strained and formal relationship. He became engaged to several women but never married. He died in obscurity in 1924 at the age of 40 from tuberculosis. Kafka was a prolific writer, spending most of his free time writing, often late in the night. He burned an estimated 90 per cent of his total work due to his persistent struggles with self-doubt. Much of the remaining 10 per cent is lost or otherwise unpublished. Few of Kafka's works were published during his lifetime: the story collections Contemplation and A Country Doctor, and individual stories (such as his novella The Metamorphosis) were published in literary magazines but received little public attention. In his will, Kafka instructed his close friend and literary executor Max Brod to destroy his unfinished works, including his novels The Trial, The Castle, and Amerika, but Brod ignored these instructions and had much of his work published. Kafka's writings became famous in German-speaking countries after World War II, influencing their literature, and its influence spread elsewhere in the world in the 1960s. It has also influenced artists, composers, and philosophers.

Photo of Stefan Zweig

2. Stefan Zweig (1881 - 1942)

With an HPI of 78.92, Stefan Zweig is the 2nd most famous Austrian Writer.  His biography has been translated into 80 different languages.

Stefan Zweig (; German: [ˈʃtɛ.fan t͡svaɪ̯k] ; 28 November 1881 – 22 February 1942) was an Austrian writer. At the height of his literary career, in the 1920s and 1930s, he was one of the most widely translated and popular writers in the world.Zweig was raised in Vienna, Austria-Hungary. He wrote historical studies of famous literary figures, such as Honoré de Balzac, Charles Dickens, and Fyodor Dostoevsky in Drei Meister (1920; Three Masters), and decisive historical events in Decisive Moments in History (1927). He wrote biographies of Joseph Fouché (1929), Mary Stuart (1935) and Marie Antoinette (Marie Antoinette: The Portrait of an Average Woman, 1932), among others. Zweig's best-known fiction includes Letter from an Unknown Woman (1922), Amok (1922), Fear (1925), Confusion of Feelings (1927), Twenty-Four Hours in the Life of a Woman (1927), the psychological novel Ungeduld des Herzens (Beware of Pity, 1939), and The Royal Game (1941). In 1934, as a result of the Nazi Party's rise in Germany and the establishment of the Standestaat regime in Austria, Zweig emigrated to England and then, in 1940, moved briefly to New York and then to Brazil, where he settled. In his final years, he would declare himself in love with the country, writing about it in the book Brazil, Land of the Future. Nonetheless, as the years passed Zweig became increasingly disillusioned and despairing at the future of Europe, and he and his wife Lotte were found dead of a barbiturate overdose in their house in Petrópolis on 23 February 1942; they had died the previous day. His work has been the basis for several film adaptations. Zweig's memoir, Die Welt von Gestern (The World of Yesterday, 1942), is noted for its description of life during the waning years of the Austro-Hungarian Empire under Franz Joseph I and has been called the most famous book on the Habsburg Empire.

Photo of Peter Handke

3. Peter Handke (1942 - )

With an HPI of 71.92, Peter Handke is the 3rd most famous Austrian Writer.  His biography has been translated into 76 different languages.

Peter Handke (German pronunciation: [ˈpeːtɐ ˈhantkə]; born 6 December 1942) is an Austrian novelist, playwright, translator, poet, film director, and screenwriter. He was awarded the 2019 Nobel Prize in Literature "for an influential work that with linguistic ingenuity has explored the periphery and the specificity of human experience." Handke is considered to be one of the most influential and original German-language writers in the second half of the 20th century.In the late 1960s, he earned his reputation as a member of the avant-garde with such plays as Offending the Audience (1966) in which actors analyze the nature of theatre and alternately insult the audience and praise its "performance", and Kaspar (1967). His novels, mostly ultra objective, deadpan accounts of characters in extreme states of mind, include The Goalie's Anxiety at the Penalty Kick (1970) and The Left-Handed Woman (1976). Prompted by his mother's suicide in 1971, he reflected her life in the novella A Sorrow Beyond Dreams (1972). A dominant theme of his works is the deadening effects and underlying irrationality of ordinary language, everyday reality, and rational order. Handke was a member of the Grazer Gruppe (an association of authors) and the Grazer Autorenversammlung, and co-founded the Verlag der Autoren publishing house in Frankfurt. He collaborated with director Wim Wenders, and wrote such screenplays as The Wrong Move and Wings of Desire. In 1973, he won the Georg Büchner Prize, the most important literary prize for German-language literature. In 1999, as a protest against the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia, Handke returned the prize money to the German Academy for Language and Literature. Handke has drawn significant controversy for his public support of Serbian nationalism in the wake of the Yugoslav Wars.

Photo of Peter Drucker

4. Peter Drucker (1909 - 2005)

With an HPI of 71.68, Peter Drucker is the 4th most famous Austrian Writer.  His biography has been translated into 44 different languages.

Peter Ferdinand Drucker (; German: [ˈdʀʊkɐ]; November 19, 1909 – November 11, 2005) was an Austrian American management consultant, educator, and author, whose writings contributed to the philosophical and practical foundations of modern management theory. He was also a leader in the development of management education, and invented the concepts known as management by objectives and self-control, and he has been described as "the founder of modern management".Drucker's books and articles, both scholarly and popular, explored how humans are organized across the business, government, and nonprofit sectors of society. He is one of the best-known and most widely influential thinkers and writers on the subject of management theory and practice. His writings have predicted many of the major developments of the late twentieth century, including privatization and decentralization; the rise of Japan to economic world power; the decisive importance of marketing; and the emergence of the information society with its necessity of lifelong learning. In 1959, Drucker coined the term "knowledge worker", and later in his life considered knowledge-worker productivity to be the next frontier of management.

Photo of Robert Musil

5. Robert Musil (1880 - 1942)

With an HPI of 70.15, Robert Musil is the 5th most famous Austrian Writer.  His biography has been translated into 58 different languages.

Robert Musil (German: [ˈʁoːbɛʁt ˈmuːzɪl]; 6 November 1880 – 15 April 1942) was an Austrian philosophical writer. His unfinished novel, The Man Without Qualities (German: Der Mann ohne Eigenschaften), is generally considered to be one of the most important and influential modernist novels.

Photo of Arthur Schnitzler

6. Arthur Schnitzler (1862 - 1931)

With an HPI of 69.25, Arthur Schnitzler is the 6th most famous Austrian Writer.  His biography has been translated into 52 different languages.

Arthur Schnitzler (15 May 1862 – 21 October 1931) was an Austrian author and dramatist. He is considered one of the most significant representatives of the Viennese Modernism. Schnitzler’s works, which include psychological dramas and narratives, dissected turn-of-the-century Viennese bourgeois life, making him a sharp and stylistically conscious chronicler of Viennese society around 1900.

Photo of Elfriede Jelinek

7. Elfriede Jelinek (1946 - )

With an HPI of 69.18, Elfriede Jelinek is the 7th most famous Austrian Writer.  Her biography has been translated into 99 different languages.

Elfriede Jelinek (German: [ɛlˈfʁiːdə ˈjɛlinɛk]; born 20 October 1946) is an Austrian playwright and novelist. She is one of the most decorated authors to write in German and was awarded the 2004 Nobel Prize in Literature for her "musical flow of voices and counter-voices in novels and plays that, with extraordinary linguistic zeal, reveal the absurdity of society's clichés and their subjugating power". She is considered to be among the most important living playwrights of the German language.

Photo of Sándor Márai

8. Sándor Márai (1900 - 1989)

With an HPI of 68.30, Sándor Márai is the 8th most famous Austrian Writer.  His biography has been translated into 43 different languages.

Sándor Márai (Hungarian: [ˈʃaːndor ˈmaːrɒi]; Archaic English name: Alexander Márai; 11 April 1900 – 21 February 1989) was a Hungarian writer, poet, and journalist.

Photo of Shmuel Yosef Agnon

9. Shmuel Yosef Agnon (1888 - 1970)

With an HPI of 68.06, Shmuel Yosef Agnon is the 9th most famous Austrian Writer.  His biography has been translated into 78 different languages.

Shmuel Yosef Agnon (Hebrew: שמואל יוסף עגנון; August 8, 1887 – February 17, 1970) was an Austro-Hungarian-born Israeli novelist, poet, and short-story writer. He was one of the central figures of modern Hebrew literature. In Hebrew, he is known by the acronym Shai Agnon (ש"י עגנון‎). In English, his works are published under the name S. Y. Agnon. Agnon was born in Polish Galicia, then part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and later immigrated to Mandatory Palestine, and died in Jerusalem. His works deal with the conflict between the traditional Jewish life and language and the modern world. They also attempt to recapture the fading traditions of the European shtetl (village). In a wider context, he also contributed to broadening the characteristic conception of the narrator's role in literature. Agnon had a distinctive linguistic style, mixing modern and rabbinic Hebrew.In 1966, he shared the Nobel Prize in Literature with the poet Nelly Sachs.

Photo of Paula Hitler

10. Paula Hitler (1896 - 1960)

With an HPI of 67.94, Paula Hitler is the 10th most famous Austrian Writer.  Her biography has been translated into 30 different languages.

Paula Hitler, also known as Paula Wolff and Paula Hitler-Wolff, (21 January 1896 – 1 June 1960) was the younger sister of Adolf Hitler and the last child of Alois Hitler and his third wife, Klara Pölzl.

Pantheon has 68 people classified as writers born between 1114 and 1969. Of these 68, 13 (19.12%) of them are still alive today. The most famous living writers include Peter Handke, Elfriede Jelinek, and Klaus Ebner. The most famous deceased writers include Franz Kafka, Stefan Zweig, and Peter Drucker. As of April 2022, 5 new writers have been added to Pantheon including Ceija Stojka, Annemarie Selinko, and Berta Zuckerkandl.

Living Writers

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Deceased Writers

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Newly Added Writers (2022)

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Which Writers were alive at the same time? This visualization shows the lifespans of the 25 most globally memorable Writers since 1700.