Christa Winsloe

Christa Winsloe (nee Christa Kate Winsloe; married name Christa Hatvany, Christa von Hatvany, Christa Hatvany-Winsloe; December 23, 1888 – June 10, 1944) was a German sculptor and writer.

She attended a boarding school in Potsdam, and later a Swiss boarding school. Against the will of her family, Winsloe started to study sculpture at the Munich School of Applied Arts in 1909.

In 1913, she married Baron Lajos Hatvany, a Hungarian writer. They had planned to live in Paris, where Winsloe intended to attend art school, but they moved to Hungary after the outbreak of World War I. In 1922, the couple separated and Winsloe moved to Berlin, where she earned money selling drawings to magazines such as Querschnitt, and writing for newspapers such as Vossischen Zeitung, Berliner Tageblatt and Tempo. After her divorce, in 1924, she returned to Munich, where she became friends, among others, with Klaus and Erika Mann and Therese Giehse.

Her first break through as a writer happened with the play Ritter Nerestan (Knight Nerestan), performed in Leipzig, in 1930, and in Berlin, in 1931, under the title Gestern und Heute (Then and Now). That same year, the play was filmed as Mädchen in Uniform (Girl in Uniform, IMDb), directed by Leontine Sagan. The film became a lesbian cult classic, and the story was once again made into a movie in 1958 (IMDb), directed by Géza von Radványi, starring Romy Schneider.

Following the success of the movie, in 1933, Winsloe wrote a novel based on it, titled Das Mädchen Manuela (The Girl Manuela). The story is also said to have inspired the novel Olivia by Dorothy Bussy (1949).

In 1932, Christa Winsloe fell in love with the US foreign correspondent Dorothy Thompson, who was a fierce anti-fascit campaigner. Winsloe and Thompson moved together to the US and their relationship lasted two years. In 1934, when they separated, Winsloe returned to Europe, where moved back and forth between Germany and France.

Blacklisted by the Nazis, Winsloe faced difficulties to get published in Germany. In 1935, her second novel, Life Begins, was published in England, and, a year later, it appeared under the title Girl Alone, in the US. Her third novel, Passeggiera, was published in 1938 in Amsterdam. In 1938 and 1939, she also worked on the screenplay for the film Jeunes filles en détresse, directed by Georg Wilhelm Pabst.

In 1940, Winsloe settled in southern France, where she fell in love with a Swiss pianist, Simone Gentet, with whom she spent the last years of her life. The two were shot by criminals on June 10th, 1944, in a forest near Cluny.



  • Gestern und Heute (Ritter Nerestan, 1930)
  • Sylvia und Sybille (1931)
  • Schicksal nach Wunsch (1932)
  • Der Schritt hinüber (1940)
  • Die unbekannte Frau
  • Heimat in Not


  • Das Mädchen Manuela (1933, also known as Mädchen in Uniform)
  • Die halbe Geige (1935)
  • Life Begins, tr. Agnes Neill Scott (1935. US: Girl Alone, 1936)
  • Passeggiera (1938)
  • Aiono (1943)


  • Auto-Biographie und andere Feuilletons: Christa Winsloe, edited by Doris Hermanns (2016)

About her

  • Rudolf Borchardt. „Wie wortreich ist die Sehnsucht“. Liebesbriefe an Christa Winsloe 1912/13, edited by Peter Sprengel (2019)
  • Meerkatzen, Meißel und das Mädchen Manuela: Die Schriftstellerin und Tierbildhauerin Christa Winsloe, by Doris Hermanns (2012)
  • Frauengeschichten: Berühmte Frauen und ihre Freundinnen, edited by Joey Horsley and Luise F. Pusch (2010)
  • Dramatikerinnen und Zeitstücke. Ein vergessenes Kapitel der Theatergeschichte von der Weimarer Republik bis zur Nachkriegszeit, by Anne Stützer (1993)
  • Im Fluchtgepäck die Sprache. Deutschsprachige Schriftstellerinnen im Exil, edited by Claudia Schoppmann (1991)

3 thoughts on “Christa Winsloe

  1. What an ignominious and sad end to her life. A new name to me, and she sounds intriguing. Interesting to see Romy Schneider in that 1958 film poster; I just looked it up – it’s from 1958, and the plot is set, obviously tapping into her own experience, in a militaristic Potsdam boarding school where a shy girl pupil falls in love with one of her women teachers.


    1. Thank you, Simon! Yes, the story is very autobiographical, and the two movie adaptations are very good – but I was surprised by the fact that the novel gives a more extensive background to the story, and it is very pessimistic. I will be posting a review next week.


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