Cate Haste is an acclaimed biographer, historian and filmmaker. She is the author of a number of bestselling books, including Nazi Women, Rules of Desire and The Goldfish Bowl: Married to the Prime Minister, which she wrote with Cherie Blair and produced as a TV documentary.
For her latest book, Haste turns to Alma Mahler, a composer, author and socialite who lived at the epicentre of fin-de-siècle Vienna. To say that she was well connected in the city’s artistic and intellectual circles is an understatement. Gustav Mahler was her first husband; Walter Gropius, founder of the Bauhaus School, her second. And the artist Gustav Klimt was her first kiss. She later got married for a third time, to the novelist Franz Werfel. Artists, musicians, writers and architects all vied to be a part of Alma Mahler’s coterie, until she was forced to flee Austria in 1938 for France and finally America, where she established a new salon in Los Angeles.
In Passionate Spirit: The Life of Alma Mahler, Haste draws on unpublished diaries and letters to illuminate the life of an extraordinary artist and intellect. Alma Mahler was one of history’s most complex and charismatic muses – a very modern woman who was a talented composer in her own right.