Classic Author Focus: Miklós Bánffy

Miklós Bánffy

I selected Miklós Bánffy to write about this month because I am reading Volume I of his Transylvania Trilogy, the work he is most famous for. This trilogy depicts the decline of Hungary heading toward the first world war. Bánffy was a nobleman, a member a distinguished family of Transylvania, which until 1916 was a part of Hungary in Austria-Hungary. Bánffy was a Liberal politician, beginning as a Member of Parliament in 1901 and eventually becoming Minister of Foreign Affairs. He also was the Director of Hungarian State Theatres from 1913 to 1918. He overcame much opposition to have Béla Bartók’s works first performed in Budapest.

In 1943, Bánffy tried to convince the Romanian government, to which Transylvania then belonged, and Hungary to abandon the Axis powers and make peace with the Allies. Negotiations broke down almost immediately over the fate of Northern Transylvania. Two years later in revenge, his estate of Bonchida was burned and looted by the Germans as they retreated. When the Red Army invaded Hungary and Romania, Bánffy’s wife and daughters fled the country while he vainly stayed in Transylania in an attempt to protect his property, which was destroyed. The family was separated until 1949, a year before he died, when he was allowed to leave Romania for Budapest.

Dates: 1873-1950

Most popular work: The Transylvania Trilogy (They Were Counted, They Were Found Wanting, They Were Divided)

Other works: The Phoenix Land, five plays, and two books of short stories

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