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Miklos Bánffy was born in 1873 and spent most of his life at the castle of Bonczhida near Kolozsvár (now Cluj-Napoca in Romania) or at the family’s town house in Pest. He was second cousin of Mihály Károlyi, who later became prime minister. He studied painting, law and mathematics before becoming a diplomat and then a member of parliament. He introduced Bartók while managing the Budapest Opera House, despite opposition. He was responsible for making arrangements for the last Habsburg coronation, Franz-Josef’s nephew, King Karl, in 1916.
In 1921 be became Minister of Foreign Affairs but had to resign because of ill health. In 1926 he retired from public life and went back to his country home, devoting himself to the arts. This included writing his famous Transylvanian Trilogy as well as founding a publishing house for young Transylvanian writers who wished to write in Hungarian, in the face of increasing Romanian domination. However, he continued to work for increased cooperation between Hungary and Romania, including trying to get an agreement in 1943 to forestall Nazi invasion. Like many of his fellow-countrymen, he wanted a semi-independent Transylvania. The negotiations failed and the price Bánffy paid was that the Germans looted his castle. The castle is now a ruin. Bánffy died in Budapest in 1950 after trying, in vain, to save his family inheritance.
In Praise of Miklos Bánffy
A Glance at the Life and Times of Miklos Banffy
(Note only books translated in English given)
1932 Emlékeimből (Phoenix Land – English translation with Huszonöt év)
1934 Megszámláltattál (They Were Counted)
1937 És híjával találtattál (They Were Found Wanting)
1940 Darabokra szaggattatol (They Were Divided)
1946 Bűvös éjszaka (Enchanted Night)
1949 Milolu (The Remarkable Mrs. Anderson)
2021 The Monkey and Other Tales
2003 The Phoenix Land : The Memoirs of Count Miklós Bánffy