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Annemarie Schwarzenbach (1908–1942)

Author of Death in Persia

Includes the names: A-M. Schwarzenbach, Annemarie Schwarzenbach

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Annemarie Schwarzenbach was born in Horgen, near Zurich, into one of the wealthiest families in Switzerland. She attended a private school and then studied in Paris and Zürich, and earned a doctorate in history at the University of Zurich at the age of 23. She started working as a journalist while still a student. Around this time, she published her first novel Freunde um Bernhard (Bernhard's Circle) to wide acclaim. She moved to Berlin, where she became part of Bohemian circles of the Weimar Republic and started using morphine. She had a short haircut and often wore men's clothing, giving her an androgynous appearance. She befriended Erika and Klaus Mann, the children of writer Thomas Mann, and shared their opposition to the Nazi regime. She had to leave Germany and traveled across Europe, the USA, the Middle East and Africa for some 10 years, producing more than 300 articles and 5,000 photographs. Among her extraordinary trips was driving in 1939 from Geneva to Kabul in an old Ford auto with ethnologist Ella Maillart, later described in her book All the Roads Are Open and the latter's book The Cruel Way. In 1935 in Tehran, Iran, she met and married Claude Clarac, a French diplomat, but left him after five months. She reported on the rise of fascism in Austria and Czechoslovakia. In the USA, she documented the effects of the Great Depression. She had an affair with Carson McCullers, and when it ended, returned to Switzerland, settling in Sils in the Engadine Mountains. There she died in 1942 at age 34 after a fall from her bicycle. Her mother destroyed all Annemarie's letters and diaries, but a friend preserved her writings and photographs, which were later stored in the Swiss Literary Archives in Bern. Her work was rediscovered in 1980s.
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