Alma Maximiliana Karlin

more than a year ago

Following the death of her father when she was eight, young Alma got her first taste of travelling when she was allowed to accompany two of her aunts on an excursion to the surrounding provinces of Dalmatia, Herzegovina, Italy, Tyrol and Bavaria. During the trip she spent hours per day visiting museums, galleries and other cultural centres and writing her first poems and short stories. She went on to complete her secondary school in Graz, where she passed exams in German, English and French, which she had begun studying several years earlier during a series of painful orthopaedic operations on her legs.

In 1913, she moved by herself to England to continue her studies at the London Society of Arts. Her weekly schedule, which suffice to say would put even the most industrious of travel writers to shame, was said to have included Norwegian and Sanskrit on Mondays, French on Tuesdays, English and Latin on Wednesdays, Danish on Thursdays, Italian and Swedish on Fridays, visits with multi-lingual friends on Saturdays and quiet Sundays with Spanish and Russian. Additionally, she would begin every morning by learning the same poem by heart in all the languages.
After graduating in eight languages after only studying for one year (and having a planned marriage to a Chinese man scuppered by her mother), Alma was forced to leave the UK at the outset of World War I due to her Austrian citizenship. She spent the war years living between Lapland in Norway and Stockholm in Sweden, where she decided that she would take up a career as a writer and travel around the world. In order to earn money for the trip she returned to Celje and founded a school for foreign languages.


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