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Sándor Mednyánszky

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Mednyánszky, Sándor, 1816–1875, Hungarian military officer. Born in Eger, Heves; son of government official. Began military career in 1832. Took active part in revolution of 1848, serving for a time as aide to Gen. Georg Klapka. On defeat of Hungarian army, went into exile in England. Lived in London for eighteen years, earning his living first by writing, then by working as bank clerk. Married, as his first wife, Anna Margaret Birkbeck (1818–1867 – see separate biographical entry), daughter of George Birkbeck, the pioneer in adult education; date of marriage given by Godard (George Birkbeck, p. 196) as 1857. Was for some time with Kossuth in Italy. Returned to Hungary, 1869. Elected to Parliament. Contributed to Hungarian periodicals. In London, his name commemorated in the Alexander Mednyanszky Prize established at the London Mechanics' Institution (now Birkbeck College, University of London) by his wife in her will.


The Office Book assigns "The Golden Age of Hungary" [VI, 342–44. Dec. 25, 1852] to Miss Birkbeck. Rural and Historical Gleanings from Eastern Europe, in which the article was reprinted, likewise beas her name as author. The book is by Mednyánszky. He dictated it to Miss Birkbeck and had it published under her name, probably not wishing, as a political refugee, to reveal his authorship. Other sections of the book, "By Miss A. M. Birkbeck," first appeared in Sharpe's, 1853–54.
      Miss Birkbeck dedicated Rural and Historical Gleanings, by permission, to Lady Langdale, in admiration of Lady Langdale's generous conduct towards Hungarian refugees. In her dedication Miss Birkbeck wrote, concerning the book itself "... I am indebted for the materials of which it composed partly to the kindness of a friend who, during a long sojourn in Hungary, acquired an accurate knowledge of that land, as well as of its inhabitants; and partly to the living chronicles of their own and their country's misfortunes, the exiles, whome the force of the political earthquake of 1848 cast upon our shores." The book was brought out in a second edition in the same year in which the first edition appeared. It was praised by the Atlas, the Examiner, and other periodicals. 
                                                                                                                                                                   Magyar Írók Élete és Munkái

Author: Anne Lohrli; © University of Toronto Press, 1971


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