Bust of Baron Avro Manhattan by Tom Finch at South Shields Museum, South Shields, Tyne & Wear.
Baron Avro Manhattan (April 6, 1914 – November 27, 1990) was a writer, historian, poet and artist. An Italian-born aristocrat who wrote about various political topics throughout his career, Manhattan is perhaps best remembered as the author of several works discussing the Vatican’s role in world politics and global affairs. Manhattan attended both the Sorbonne and the London School of Economics.
Life and career
Born in Milan, Italy, on April 6, 1914, to American and Swiss/Dutch parents of Jewish extraction, Manhattan was originally known as “Teofilo Lucifero Gardini” in his early days in Italy. Before his exile, Manhattan was known to spend his summers at the home of the artist, Paolo Troubetzkoy, in Verbania.
Manhattan, himself a painter, exhibited a number of his works at local Italian museums. The last of these exhibitions was at the Museo del Paesaggio, in Verbania, where two of his paintings remain to this day.
Manhattan was exiled to England from Italy during the Second Italo-Ethiopian War. During World War II, he operated a radio station called “Radio Freedom” broadcasting to nations occupied by the Axis Powers. Manhattan officially changed residence to the United Kingdom in 1945 for “political reasons,” but not until 1953 did Manhattan legally change his name, relinquishing the names “Teofilo Angelo Mario Gardini” and “Teophile Lucifer Gardini.” At the time, he lived in Wimbledon, London.
In 1961, Manhattan met his future wife, Anne Manhattan née Cunningham Brown, in London, and two years later, they moved into a house on Henry Nelson Street in South Shields, North East England.
He is buried with his wife at Shotley Bridge in Benfieldside Cemetery, Consett, County Durham, England. Their gravestone reads:
To The Beloved Memory of BARON AVRO MANHATTAN, K.T. P.H.d. Knight Commander of the Crown Of Savoy, Grand Cross of the Order Of Mercedes, Knight Commander of Justice…Malta, Commander Grand Cross of Bethlehem, Writer and historian, Poet and Artist. Departed This Life Nov. 27th 1990, Deeply Mourned and Sadly Missed By His Beloved Wife Anne, Friends and Readership – Worldwide. Also His Dear Wife BARONESS ANNE MANHATTAN Died 18th Jan 2008 Aged 86 Years.
His friends included H. G. Wells, Pablo Picasso, George Bernard Shaw, and scientist Marie Stopes.