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Mela Hartwig

Austrian writer, actress & painter


Born  Oct 10, 1893

in Vienna, Austria

Maiden Name: Melanie Hess

Died April 24, 1967

in London, Great Britain

Biographical Detail:

1893     Born asillegitimate daughter of Katharina Hess and Austrian sociologist and philosopher Theodor Hartwig


  • After having studied pedagogy in Vienna, changed to the Vienna Konservatorium and completed the training in drama and singing
  • Worked as an actress in Austria as well as being part of the Ensemble at the Schiller Theatre in Berlin

1921     Married Jewish Lawyer Robert Spira and moved to Graz, where Mela Hartwig started writing

1930     Starting in 1930, struggled finding a publisher due to her Jewish decent and started painting

1938     The couple emigrated to England

1948     The couple returned to Graz to claim their “confiscated” possessions, but continued to live in London; Mela Hartwig paints under the name of Mela Spira  and made a name for herself as a painter

1967     April 24, Mela Hartwig dies in London

Selection of Works: 

Ekstasen (1928) (collection of short stories)

Das Weib ist ein Nichts (Novel, 1929)

Das Wunder von Ulm (Short story, 1936)

Published after her death:


Bin ich ein überflüssiger Mensch? (Novel, 2001)

Das Verbrechen (collection of short stories, 2004)

Sources:, Mela Hartwig (Link to Website), “Der Tempel brennt. Mega Hartwig (1893 – 1967)” (Link to Website), Mela Hartwig (Link to Website)

Artist’s Estate:

Library at the town hall Vienna/ Wienbibliothek im Rathaus, Wien (Link to Website) 

Story Map of the Artist’s Life: 

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