Books by Andrea Weiss

In the Shadow of the Magic Mountain

Thomas Mann’s two eldest children, Erika and Klaus, were unconventional, rebellious, and fiercely devoted to each other. Empowered by their close bond, they espoused vehemently anti-Nazi views in a Europe swept up in fascism and were openly, even defiantly, gay in an age of secrecy and repression. Although their father’s fame has unfairly overshadowed their legacy, Erika and Klaus were serious authors, performance artists before the medium existed, and political visionaries whose searing essays and lectures are still relevant today. And, as Andrea Weiss reveals in this dual biography, their story offers a fascinating view of the literary and intellectual life, political turmoil, and shifting sexual mores of their times.      

In the Shadow of the Magic Mountain begins with an account of the make-believe world the Manns created together as children—an early sign of their talents as well as the intensity of their relationship. Weiss documents the lifelong artistic collaboration that followed, showing how, as the Nazis took power, Erika and Klaus infused their work with a shared sense of political commitment. Their views earned them exile, and after escaping Germany they eventually moved to the United States, where both served as members of the U.S. armed forces. Abroad, they enjoyed a wide circle of famous friends, including Andre Gide, Christopher Isherwood, Jean Cocteau, and W. H. Auden, whom Erika married in 1935. But the demands of life in exile, Klaus’s heroin addiction, and Erika’s new allegiance to their father strained their mutual devotion, and in 1949 Klaus committed suicide.

In the Shadow of the Magic Mountain: The Erika and Klaus Mann Story
University of Chicago Press, 2008.  272 pages.


“Andrea Weiss proves here that complex life forms can thrive in the dark. In the Shadow of the Magic Mountain illuminates not only its primary subjects, Erika and Klaus Mann, but also the father who overshadowed them. A brilliant and important work of historical and literary portraiture.”
David Hajdu, author of Positively 4th Street: The Lives and Times of Joan Baez, Bob Dylan, Mimi Baez Farina and Richard Farina

“Weiss has got hold of an intrinsically dramatic story, and she tells it well. The dual lives of Thomas Mann’s eldest children combine homosexuality, political conflict, and the unfathomable burden of being the offspring of Germany’s greatest living writer. The chief merit of Weiss’s lively rendering of this story is the way she links the fates of Mann’s progeny not only to one another but to many of the major figures of European culture. Hence her book also tells us a great deal about the lives of anti-fascist intellectuals and artists in the Nazi era.”
Paul Robinson, author of Gay Lives: Homosexual Autobiography from John Addington Symonds to Paul Monette

“In the Shadow of the Magic Mountain  [is] an extravagance of highbrow gossip, with such raisins in the cake as Andre Gide, Bertolt Brecht, Sybille Bedford, Jean Cocteau, Stefan Zweig, Muriel Rukeyser, Christopher Isherwood, Janet Flanner, James Baldwin and Carson McCullers.” 
Harpers review     (click on publication for full review)

“Andrea Weiss tells their story with enthusiasm, sympathy and insight.”  
The Spectator (U.K.)

“In her useful and sympathetic book about the Mann family, In the Shadow of the Magic Mountain, Andrea Weiss… charts the shifting nature of their relationship with considerable care.”
London Review of Books (U.K.)

“Theirs is a fascinating tale. Outside the pages of the Manns’ own memoirs and essays, or of Klaus’s deeply personal fiction, it’s hard to imagine it more sympathetically told.
The Times (London)

“Author of Vampires and Violets: Lesbians in the Cinema (1992) and Paris Was a Woman: Portraits from the Left Bank (1995), Andrea Weiss was on an inevitable trajectory when she finally sat down to write the story of Erika and Klaus Mann. The scene was set, the drama a tragedy. Klaus’s lifelong attempt to win his father’s approval — or die trying, which he did — was a campaign complicated and harried by cataclysmic world events brought masterfully into play by Weiss.”   
The Australian (Melbourne)

“Weiss’s account of all these episodes is discreet, understated and moving.  It is to be hoped that it will serve to remind Americans of an important episode in their history and two very special visitors to their shores.”
Times Higher Education (U.K)

Available in hardcover
Also available in an earlier edition in German from          

Beautiful never-before-seen photographs illustrate Weiss’s riveting tale of two brave nonconformists whose dramatic lives open up new perspectives on the history of the twentieth century.


Paris Was a Woman

“The lives and work of these women have been covered in other books, but Weiss’ effort stands head and shoulders above most of these… Witty, accessible, inspired, this is a thoroughly enjoyable book that you will keep coming back to.”   — Gay Times, London

“Andrea Weiss has told the fascinating, less well known story of the remarkable women artists and writers who made pre-war Paris the cultural capital of the world — riveting!”
— Edmund White

 “Paris Was a Woman is a classic Modernist cultural biography of the places and people who made Paris the center of the avant-garde universe in the 1920s. People are still to be seen clutching their (our) old copies outside the addresses where Gertrude and Alice and Djuna and Natalie, their lovers and their characters, changed and charged the atmosphere with sex and sexual politics, love, heartbreak and radical creativity. The book has always graced my classroom. Now a new generation will enjoy the source text of the Modernist feminine/feminist.”  — Jane Marcus, author of Virginia Woolf and the Languages of PatriarchyArt and Anger: Reading Like a WomanHearts of Darkness: White Women Write Race


“[In] Andrea Weiss’s enjoyable book . . . the bohemian world of Paris during the 1920s is
more interestingly and accurately conceived as a community of women . . . She draws on
a wealth of research [and] has a professional eye for what a photographic portrait is.”
— The Times Literary Supplement

“The strength of this book lies in its upbeat exploration of the pairings, connections, and
enabling gestures that briefly made Paris not a mistress but a gifted woman.”
— Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society

Profusely illustrated and painstakingly researched, this book is an enlightening account of women who between wars found their self and their voice in Paris. Though mostly concerned with the stories of lesbian or bisexual women such as Colette, Gertrude Stein, Alice Toklas, Sylvia Beach, Djuna Barnes and Natalie Barney who came to the City of Light attracted by an aura of unbridled freedom, this book will appeal to all those who are interested in this fascinating early period of the twentieth century as well.

Paris Was a Woman:

Counterpoint Press, 2013.  Pandora Press UK and Harper San Francisco USA, 1995.   Winner of the 1996 Lambda Book Award (“the Lammies”). 

Paris Was a Woman is an illustrated collective portrait of the unique community of women who became known as the ‘women of the Left Bank’.  Authors Colette, Djuna Barnes and Gertrude Stein, poets H.D. and Natalie Clifford Barney, painters Romaine Brooks and Marie Laurencin, editors Bryher, Alice Toklas, Margaret Anderson and Jane Heap, photographers Berenice Abbott and Gisele Freund, booksellers Sylvia Beach and Adrienne Monnier, and journalist Janet Flanner all figured in this legendary milieu. A wealth of photographs, paintings, drawings, and literary fragments, many previously unpublished, combine with Andrea Weiss’s lively and revealing text to give an unparalleled insight into this extraordinary network of women for whom Paris was neither mistress nor muse, but a different kind of woman.

Also available in Spanish, German, Swedish, Korean, Japanese, and Croatian!


Vampires and Violets

The story of lesbians and the cinema told for the first time in Vampires and Violets, is a love-hate affair in which the invisible becomes visible in fascinating and surprising ways. With wit, insight, and liberal illustrations, the author brings into her discussions a wide range of films, both popular and forgotten, as well as the work of contemporary directors such as Chantal Akerman, Barbara Hammer, Su Friedrich, Ulrike Ottinger, and many others.

Vampires and Violets:
Penguin USA 1993. 184 pages. Paperback.

Read a great review about the book, reprinted from International Gay and Lesbian Review:

Vampires and Violets:
Penguin USA 1993. 184 pages. Paperback.

Read a great review about the book, reprinted from International Gay and Lesbian Review:

Reader review on Amazon:
5.0 out of 5 stars  “Well-written and slyly witty”, Feb 29 2004
By Shannon Watkins (Radford, VA) – 
“I bought this book in college for a paper I never actually wrote, but I kept it because it was so engaging. Weiss writes about lesbians in film so well I’m rather surprised this book hasn’t gotten more attention; it isn’t a political screed or a narcolepsy-inducing thesis but simply a good book on an interesting subject. I haven’t seen half the films mentioned herein but I’m dying to; she makes it THAT interesting.”

(Hey thanks, Shannon!)

Book is currently out of print but can be purchased from Jezebel Productions, for  $10.95 U.S. + shipping.


Before Stonewall

Naiad Press, 1988.  96 pages. Co-authored with Greta Schiller.  
The book and study guide to the movie, 
Before Stonewall, the making of a gay and lesbian community. Illustrated.  

This illustrated study guide to the informative and enlightening documentary examines how gay people lived and supported and recognized each other in the days before the landmark disturbance at the Stonewall bar in New York in 1969, an event that gave new impetus to the gay rights movement in the U.S.

It features many brave individuals who risked life and limb back in the “dark ages” by even broaching the subject of homosexuality in the open. Many readers will find revelations here that are fascinating, for example how World War II, of all things, served to end the isolation felt by many gays who fought and served back then.

Available in paperback from Jezebel Productions  for $10.95 U.S. + shipping.