Any public organization formed by artists in the Habsburg monarchy either raised suspicion or was considered a sign of moral terpitude. If it had any effect at all, such organised action only succeeded within the context of social aid programs or for the purpose of creative regeneration. One of the earliest literary organisations was the Verein der Schriftstellerinnen und Künstlerinnen, an association founded in 1885, whose members included luminaries such as Marie von Ebner-Eschenbach, Selma Lagerlöf, Ricarda Huch and Berta Zuckerkandl, with the main purpose of establishing a “pension fund for aging writers and artists no longer capable of working”. It predated the Vienna Secession, which was established in 1897 under the motto “To every age its art – to art its freedom”.

There was an increasing trend towards self-organisation during these years, exemplified by the emergence of a literary scene in Austria that was independent of publishers and theatres. It led to the establishment of the magazine Die Fackel (1899 – 1936) by Karl Kraus, the half-monthly magazine Der Brenner (1910 – 1954) published in Innsbruck by Ludwig von Ficker, and to the emergence of the “coffeehouse literature” scene based mostly at two Viennese coffeehouses: Café Griensteidl and Café Central. Die Fackel and Der Brenner were read in the entire German-speaking world, and Vienna was Europe’s undisputed centre of coffeehouse literature.