Links to the paintings
Most texts can be found online, often as pdfs, invariably free of charge. However, if you want to buy your own copies, I’ve added the necessary links.
- Arthur Rimbaud The Infernal Bridegroom from the collection A Season in Hell (recently re-issued with a preface by Patti Smith). This poem is the one Wally finds and reads when Egon goes out with his friend Willy. She reads it hungrily, looking for clues and is horrified by the mirror that the words hold up to her own life. She looks in and sees reflected back at her the depths to which Egon Schiele has dragged her. The words of the poem chart her own murky descent.
- Adelheid Popp The Autobiography of a Working Woman Much of Wally’s backstory comes from this (specifically the jobs she and her mother do before she becomes an artist’s model). It tells the true story of a working class woman looking for, getting, then losing jobs and the obstacles she faces. Adelheid Popp was a revelation to me. And an inspiration.
- Otto Weininger Sex and Character. When I first starting researching the attitudes to women in Vienna at the start of the 20th century all roads led to this book – Sex and Character. It makes for a riveting read for all the wrong reasons. In pseudo-scientific language he justifies his poorly disguised misogyny. I won’t give his book the oxygen of publicity by perpetuating his ideas, but, suffice to say, much in the way Klimt and Schiele behave towards Wally stems from a shared attitude to women and their place in society as made explicit in Weininger’s work. Read it at your peril. Or if you want a laugh. Depending on your mood. It could explain a lot.
- Sue Lloyd-Roberts The War on Women. This was a present from a friend. I defy anyone to read Lloyd-Robert’s observations on how girls and women are treated around the world and say they don’t believe in feminism.