“The German Wife”: SudTirol or Alto Adige?

In my three recent launch events in Italy and Ireland, audiences showed great interest in one of The Bicycle Thief and the German Wife‘s central threads. This was Babí’s homeland of the SudTirol which became incorporated into Italy when Babí was aged 3 following WWI. The infamous option and the impact on Babi’s own family – including one brother-in-law who ended up with the German army in Stalingrad – are aspects that have generally been wiped out of Italian history.

The two books (available in English) providing good overviews of these times are:

  • The South Tyrol Question, 1866-2010: from national rage to regional state by Georg Grote (who upto recently taught in UCD)
  • South Tyrol: A minority conflict of the twentieth century by Rolf Steininger



Three other books (available only in Italian and German as far as I’m aware) which provide diverse perspectives are:

  • Ereditá: una storia della mia famiglia tra l’impero e il fascismo by Lilli Gruber, a well known Italian journalist which recounts the story of her own German-speaking family in the region
  • Eva Dorme by Francesca Melandri which although a (very readable and successful) novel really gives a great sense of the historical background and in some ways could reflect parts of Babi’s own life
  • Dimenticare Mai by Franz Thaler which recalls the personal experience of a German-speaker whose family rejected the option, refusing to leave their native land to move to the Reich in 1940. Thaler came out of hiding from the Germans when his parents and siblings were threatened with imprisonment in the local Bolzano concentration camp. This brought Thaler to Dachau where only due to his youthful strength did he survive upto liberation. “Dimenticare Mai” means “never forget”.

Italian Book Launches

Thanks to everyone who came to the two book launches last week in Ancona and Fano for The Bicycle Thief and the German Wife.


Valentina Conti (Affinitá Elettive) and Valentina Foschi (Liceo Nolfi) were wonderful hosts on each evening. We’re also especially grateful to Paolo Marasca, Assessore Culturale for the Comune of Ancona, for giving his time to attend and for so being so generous in his introduction to the event and The Bicycle Thief and the German Wife.

Paolo Valentina Paul

With Paolo Marasca, Assessore Culturale of Ancona and Valentina Conti, Founder, Affinitá Elettive at the launch on the Teatro della Muse, Ancona 

The Dublin book launch is now bring organised which we hope will take place in early May.

Per comprare/To buy:

Affinitá Elettive, Ancona & Dove comprare/Where to Buy

Sará disponibile anche su Amazon a pasqua/The book will also be available on Amazon (Italia, UK and worldwide) from about Easter.

The Bicycle Thief and the German Wife: Book Launch, Ancona/Fano, April 2019

I’m delighted to announce that my new book, The Bicycle Thief and the German Wife (The Hidden War of a German-speaking Italian Family)published by Affinitá Elettive, Ancona (www.edizioniae.it) will be launched this April 2019.

With an introduction by Associate Professor Eric Haywood, Emeritus Head of the School of Italian Studies in University College Dublin and Cavaliere dell’Ordine della Stella d’Italia, the launch dates are below.

See also Where to Buy The book will be available on Amazon from late April.

L’incontro di Ancona si terrà in ItalianoL’incontro di Fano si terrà in Italiano e in Inglese ed è organizzato dal Liceo Nolfi-Apolloni di Fano, prof.ssa Valentina Foschi.
  • Ancona launch: Teatro delle Muse, 6pm, Thursday, April 4th


  • Fano launch: Mediateca Montanari (MeMo), 5pm, Friday, April 5th





Doublethink in Fano, Italy

Delighted to be invited back by Valentina Foschi to deliver two seminars to students in the Liceo Nolfi and to teachers in Mediateca Montanari this year in Fano, Italia, on December 20th.

The Orwell presentation, as part of the EFL Teacher’s Professional Develoment Series 2018-2019, takes place from 3-6pm in Memo and is entitled: Double Think or Clear Thinking: Sharing George Orwell with a New Generation.


Thinking Outside The Box in Fano, Italy

Teachers watching

Following my talk on the subject to teachers in Recanati in 2016, I was pleased to be invited by Valentina Foschi and the Principal of Liceo Nolfi in Fano, Italy to discuss resilience, authenticity and employability for literature and languages students on December 18th 2017.

This was followed by an afternoon session I presented for teachers in the beautifully restored surroundings of Memo – or La Mediateca Montanari. This was the inaugural seminar of Fano’s new “Think Outside The Box” lecture series which is continuing in 2018.

memo 1

Humanities and Employability, Fano