Alice Schalek

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Pseudonyms: 
Alice Therese Emma Schalek
Paul Michaely

The first woman in Austria to become a career photojournalist and travel writer, and the first and only female member of the Austrian Kriegspressedienst (war information unit) during World War I, Alice Schalek paved the way for careers in both photography and journalism for other women. Born in Vienna in 1874 to Jewish emigrants from Bohemia, Schalek first entered the public sphere at the turn of the century as the author of a well-received novel, published under the male pseudonym Paul Michaely.

Schalek’s early success in publishing was in no small part a result of her family’s connections to the burgeoning field of press and media; her father, Heinrich Schalek, successfully ran the first newspaper advertising agency in Austria, which her younger brother Norbert (1880–?) eventually took over. Schalek’s siblings also included an older brother, Rudolf (1869–1942), and a sister, Melanie. From 1903 to 1935 Schalek both wrote for and became an editor of the feuilleton section of the Neue Freie Presse under her own name and from 1904 to 1913 she wrote popular reports on her travels to Egypt, Palestine, India, Southeast Asia, Japan and Australia, eventually publishing three books on the topic. In 1910 she held the first public lectures in Austria accompanied by photographs, and she also became the first woman to hold lectures at Vienna’s adult education center, Urania, in 1912.
 
Though her family background certainly aided her early career in the media, it is less clear to what extent her Jewish identity directly influenced her work. Except for one newspaper essay in which Schalek admits that Jews as a group are often attacked despite their loyalty to the state, the majority of her reports do not mention Jewish issues. Schalek’s conversion to Protestantism in 1904 at the age of thirty, only one year after her appointment as editor at the Neue Freie Presse, suggests that career pressures and antisemitism led her to the change. Indeed, she was also exposed to antisemitism in the mountain climbing club Austria, in which she remained until its membership was restricted to Aryans in 1921. Schalek never married.

Text Source: Silverman, Lisa. "Alice Schalek." Jewish Women: A Comprehensive Historical Encyclopedia. 1 March 2009. Jewish Women's Archive. August 18, 2011 <http://jwa.org/encyclopedia/article/schalek-alice>.

Life
Birthdate: 
August 21, 1874
Birth Location: 
Vienna, Austria
Death Date: 
November 6, 1956
Death Location: 
New York, United States of America

Works by Alice Schalek