Elisabeth Mann-Borgese

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Elisabeth Mann Borgese, CM (April 24, 1918 – February 8, 2002) was an internationally recognized expert on maritime law and policy and the protection of the environment. She was one of the founding members – and for a long time the only female member – of the Club of Rome and worked as a university professor at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Canada.

Early life[edit]

Mann Borgese was born in Munich, Germany as the youngest daughter of Katia Pringsheim and her husband, the famous German author Thomas Mann. Her uncle Heinrich Mann, Thomas's brother, also was a novelist. Her brothers and sisters are Klaus, Erika, Golo, Monika and Michael Mann. By Erika Mann's marriage, she became sister-in-law to W. H. Auden. The Mann family left Germany after Hitler came to power, moving first to Switzerland, and, in 1938, to the United States. In 1939 she married the anti-fascist Italian writer and professor of literature Giuseppe Antonio Borgese (1882–1952), 36 years her senior, by whom she had two daughters, Angelica (born 1941) and Dominica (born 1944), who lost their father when they were 11 and 8 years old respectively, hence Mann Borgese raised her teenagers as a single parent, who from 1953 to 1967 lived with a new partner, Corrado Tumiati.

After German and Czech citizenship (as a rescue measure, in 1936), she had become a United States citizen in 1941, taking Canadian citizenship in 1983.

Among musicians, Mann Borgese is known for having translated Heinrich Schenker's Harmony into English.

Late career[edit]

In the mid-1960s, by when the father of her children had been dead for almost a decade, Mann Borgese was for two years the executive secretary of the board of the Encyclopædia Britannica and more generally worked as an editor and researcher in Chicago.

At the age of 52, Mann Borgese had established herself as an international expert on the oceans. She was the initiator and organizer of the first conference on the law of the sea on Malta in 1970, with the title of "Pacem in Maribus" ("Peace in the Oceans").[1][2] From 1973 to 1982, Mann Borgese formed part of the expert group of the Austrian delegation during the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.[3]

At the age of 59, in 1977, Mann Borgese turned Dalhousie University Professor of Political Science by invitation, with an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Dalhousie in 1998, at the age of 80, and kept up her teaching duties until the age of 81. During a skiing holiday in St. Moritz, Switzerland she died unexpectedly two years later.[4]

Awards and honours[edit]

In 1988, she was made a Member of the Order of Canada. Her citation for this award read:

A true citizen of the world, she has been involved with a number of global issues and has been a trusted spokesperson and defender of the rights of Third World countries. Currently Associate Director of the Lester Pearson Institute for International Development and an advocate of international co-operation, she is recognized as an authority on the Law of the Sea and is respected for her undisputed knowledge, her outstanding leadership abilities and her commitment to a better future for all.

In 1999, the National Maritime Museum awarded her its Caird Medal.

Published works[edit]

Research and other non-fiction[edit]

  • The Oceanic Circle: Governing the Seas as a Global Resource (1998), United Nations University Press: New York, ISBN 92-808-1013-8, LCCN 98-40090
  • The Ascent of Woman (1963)


  • "The Immortal Fish" (1957)
  • "For Sale, Reasonable" (1959)
  • "True Self" (1959)
  • "Twin's Wail" (1959)
  • "My Own Utopia" (1961) (epilogue from The Ascent of Woman)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Dalhousie University Obituaries, Elisabeth Mann Borgese In Memoriam, Dalhousie News Volume 32, Number 7; March 13, 2002, http://www.library.dal.ca/DUASC/Obituaries/BorgeseEM/
  2. ^ Visionäre Frauen im Einsatz für den Umweltschutz - 1899 bis heute. Katalog zur Ausstellung. Kuratierung: Sabine Diemer und Dr. Anna-Katharina Wöbse, Herausgeber: Bundesministerium für Umwelt, Naturschutz und Reaktorsicherheit (BMU), Deutsche Bundesstiftung Umwelt (DBU), 2013, p. 96, http://www.bmu.de/fileadmin/Daten_BMU/Download_PDF/Ausstellungen/ausstellung_visionaere_frauen_katalog_bf.pdf
  3. ^ Elisabeth Mann Borgese - die jüngste Tochter von Thomas Mann. Ein Hörporträt von Wolf Gaudlitz. Unter Mitwirkung von Elisabeth Mann Borgese et al. Freiburg/ Breisgau: Audiobuch, 2010, 4 CDs (245 minutes). ISBN 978-3-89964-387-9, information on UN activities CD 1-2.
  4. ^ Elisabeth Mann Borgese - die jüngste Tochter von Thomas Mann. Ein Hörporträt von Wolf Gaudlitz. Unter Mitwirkung von Elisabeth Mann Borgese et al. Freiburg/ Breisgau: Audiobuch, 2010, 4 CDs (245 minutes). ISBN 978-3-89964-387-9.

External links[edit]