Elisabeth Mann Borgese

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Katia Mann with children (about 1919). From left to right: Monika, Golo, Michael, Katia, Klaus, Elisabeth, Erika

Elisabeth Veronika 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 got the first female member of the Club of Rome in 1970, and also remained 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 became 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, 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. She received 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. Mann Borgese died unexpectedly at the age of 83, during a skiing holiday in St. Moritz, Switzerland.[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.

Digitization Project[edit]

On April 8, 2014, the Dalhousie Libraries University Archives posted a media release to their blog, The Libvine,[5] stating that they had received $100,000 to digitize their Borgese Collection. The money was donated by Nikolaus Gelpke, the incoming president of the International Ocean Institute (IOI), who is also a former student of Mann Borgese. The extensive collection includes research and personal papers.

Researchers from places such as Germany and New Zealand have shown interest in studying these papers, which are housed in Halifax’s Dalhousie Libraries University Archive. The digitization process will make Mann Borgese’s work available to researchers worldwide.

Description of Fonds[edit]

The Mann Borgese Fonds[6] includes 55.5 metres of material (meaning that the boxes of papers measure 55.5 metres when laid end to end), or 370 boxes. The fonds also contains fifty-one audio cassettes, forty-seven reel-to-reel audio tapes, three VHS cassettes, and two 16 mm motion picture films. The fonds includes works in multiple languages; the majority are in English, with some German and Italian.

The fonds was donated to Dalhousie in five different accessions. The first three accessions included material from the Estate of Mann Borgese, and were donated in 2002-2003. In 2009, material from the International Oceans Institute was donated. The fifth accession was received in 2013, and had been in the custody of Betsy Baker.

The scope and content include works relating to the professional activities of Mann Borgese, with a focus on the projects and organizations she worked with from the 1940s onward. Her works also include correspondence, publications and drafts, administrative records, conference materials, sound and video recordings, research materials, photographs, and other materials.

The fond can be found under reference code MS-2-744 in the Dalhousie University Archives’ online finding aid[6] for the Mann Borgese Archive.

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
  • SEAFARM: The story of Aquaculture (1980) Harry N Abrams, NY
  • The Drama of the Oceans (1975), ISBN 0-8109-0337-7
  • The Ascent of Woman (1963)


  • "The Immortal Fish" (1957)
  • "For Sale, Reasonable" (1959)
  • "True Self" (1959)
  • "Twin's Wail" (1959)
  • To Whom it May Concern (1960)
  • "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
  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, "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2013-05-20. Retrieved 2013-05-17. 
  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.
  5. ^ The Libvine Blog https://blogs.dal.ca/libraries/2014/04/dalhousie-libraries-university-archives-receives-100000-for-the-borgese-collection/
  6. ^ a b Elisabeth Mann Borgese Archive Finding Aid

External links[edit]