(Zurich, Switzerland, 1908 - Sils im Engadin/Segl, Switzerland, 1942)
A Doctor of History, archaeologist, journalist, photographer and novelist, Annemarie Schwarzenbach is known above all for her work as a travel writer. She was a friend of Klaus and Erika Mann (the children of Thomas Mann) and experienced the tumultuous artistic atmosphere of Berlin between the wars. The story of her life is an adventure novel in itself. In 1935 she married the French diplomat Claude Clarac in Iran. Her journeys, which inspired her work, took her to the United States, Spain, Russia, Afghanistan and the Belgian Congo. Throughout her life she was addicted to morphine and was intermittently under psychiatric treatment, marked by suicide attempts.
Oddly enough, despite her turbulent life, she died at the age of 34 in the same way as the singer Nico on the island of Ibiza: in a bicycle accident.
Around mid-1938, Annemarie met Ella Maillart, the great Swedish travel writer, whose Forbidden Journey she had read. The new friends planned to travel through Afghanistan in Annemarie's Ford, packed with photographic material. The travellers aroused curiosity and shocked surprise in Afghanistan. Nevertheless, no one refused them board and lodging. After ten weeks they arrived in Kabul, where they learned about the German-Soviet Pact and the outbreak of the Second World War. Maillart left for India, while Annemarie decided to cross Afghan Turkestan. Her travels with Maillart are narrated in the gripping book All The Roads Are Open.
Her photography is a great unknown masterwork. Like her writing, her square black and white images form part of her autobiography, an impersonal diary, a travel narrative full of fictional elements. A paeon to the East invented by Westerners.