Lina Loos

* 09.10.1882 (Vienna) 06.06.1950 (Vienna) Austria
Fields of activity: actress, poet, muse
Author: Sieglinde Brunner

Lina Loos

Lina Loos was a coveted woman in the circle of Viennese literary figures who strived already in her youth to keep personal and artistic independence in an artistic scene dominated by men.

She was born as the third child of Carl and Caroline Obertimpfler. Thanks to the generous dowry of her mother and the enthusiasm of the married couple there is a social rise of her parents. Between 1885 and 1899 the times are economical unstable. There is a steady financial up and down, the parents have to work hard to survive but Lina still has a wonderful time, free of all middle class conventions she grows up in a block of flats with many other children around.

Lina, the youngest, is able to withdraw herself from all middle-class expectations, starts, like her acting brother, who later gets famous by his name Carl Forest, to start acting and enrolled in acting school. To have a job, especially to be an actress, was a venture which was very far off the mark and the common.

At the turn of the century Vienna had a spirit of optimism. Opposites clashed: wealth and severe poverty, monarchy and socialism, antisemitism and jewish cultural and scientific creativity, feminism and hostility towards women, prudery and erotic new beginnings.

Through her sister who is a writer Lina gets into the literary figures circle, especially Peter Altenberg on whose regulars table are people like Karl Kraus, Egon Friedell and Adolf Loos. Lina breaks his cigarette box and she asks how she can return a favour and he tells her to marry him, she agrees and half a year later they are a married couple, he being a 32 year old known architect, always short of money, she an only 20 year old acting student. Lina is short, fragile, is seen as a beauty and represented the type of Lolita. The understanding of the husbands at these times was that their wives had to devote everything unreserved to their wishes and desires and also their successes.The wives should by no means get a challenge and disturb the system of their arrogance. In the letters of Adolf Loos to Lina she is objectified to “sweetest”, “most dearest” and “girly”. She should be created new through him. She opposed to that, did not want to become an artificial product, but wanted to be seen as a person. Against al middle-class conventions she got a divorce after 3 years. She was able to turn love affairs into life-long friendships.

At the theatre she played due to her distinct stage fright only side roles. The main roles she played for many people in her surrounding, to whom she gave lots of energy and tme.

Lina’s writing career starts with letters to her husband. One of them is published by Adolf Loos in 19904 in the newspaper “Neues Wiener Tagblatt”. By 1918 her writing gains importance. Her distinct feuilletons, humorous, critical, sometimes cynical, are published in  various newspapers. She shows social injustice and injustice against women. Essays and aphorism are dedicated to the self-assertion of women. From  a number of plays only one is performed with good reviews, called “Mother” in the German Volkstheatre, the others can be found in her legacy.

In the mid-30ies she starts a book for a film, also because the financial situation is tense and engagements are uncertain. Lina Loos can only keep up her lifestyle with financial insecurity, modesty and poverty.Even though she is an independent, modern woman she is on the other hand also a caring, empathic friend that is here for everybody with love and care. She gets her social engagement from the Christian social ethics.

1938 many friends from Lina have to flee and for many suicide is the only escape. Shattered she withdraws herself in her small apartment in Sievering. Financial problems and physical destitute go hand in hand. Food packages from friends alleviate her situation slightly. The apartment is hard to heat so she spends many hours at the coffeehouse so she doesn’t freeze to death. After the war she gets involved politically in the Association of democratic women where also nuclear scientist Dr. Liese Meitner and Grete Wiesenthal participate, which soon becomes the female organization of the commmunist party. By 1949 Lina Loos is next to Margarethe Schütte-Lihotzky the head of the association. She publishes in the “Austrian Diary” and the “Voice of Women”, in communist newspapers. In 1947 her “Book without Title” was published where she used articles and feuilletons that were published in other magazines before..

On the 6th of June 1950 she dies due to cancer, a disease that made her suffer already many years before.

In her legacy there a many letters to friends, unpublished manuscripts and a secretly kept philosophical work.

Translation: Eva Linton


Lina Loos, „Buch ohne Titel“  Hrsg. Adolf Opel/ Herbert Schimek,  Vlg. Böhlau, 1986

Fischer Lisa:  “Lina Loos oder Wenn die Muse sich selbst küsst”. Vlg. Böhlau,  2007

Photocredits: Image Lina Loos, author Pietzner, Carl, 1904.

Sources: picture archiv ONB, with friendly permission of ONB ((Austrian National Library) of 20.01.2014