Brigitte Hamann was born in Essen, Germany. She studied history and German literature at the universities of Münster and Vienna, and then worked as a journalist in her native city. In 1965, she married Günther Hamann, an historian and professor, and moved with him to Vienna, where she became an Austrian citizen. The couple had three children, including journalist and feminist Sibylle Hamann. In 1978, Brigitte Hamann earned a Ph.D. in history with a dissertation on the life of Crown Prince Rudolf of Austria. It was published in part the same year as a book entitled Rudolf, Crown Prince and Rebel. The success of this first book led to her career as a history writer, and she produced bestselling biographies of Empress Elisabeth of Austria, Adolf Hitler, and Winifred Wagner. She won numerous literary prizes for her work, including the Kreisky-Preis and the Ehrenpreis Presseclubs Concordia. She also appeared in the 2004 HBO documentary film Hidden Fuhrer: Debating the Enigma of Hitler's Sexuality.