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Baccarini, Antonio (1887–1971)

by Gianfranco Cresciani

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 7, (MUP), 1979

Antonio Baccarini (1887-1971), merchant, was born on 7 July 1887 at Avellino, Italy, son of Pasquale Baccarini (d.1919), and his wife Maria Italia, née Vason. In 1900 Antonio moved to Florence when his father was appointed professor of botany at the Instituto di Studi Superiori (University of Florence); he qualified as a chemist in 1913 and as a doctor in science in 1915.

From 1913 Baccarini served in the Italian army; discharged early in 1915, he was almost immediately recalled for service in World War I and was soon promoted captain. Late that year he was posted to London and bought supplies for the Italian army commissariat. On 28 November 1917 at St Peter's Italian Church, Holborn, he married Ruth King. In February 1918 he was recalled to the front and acted as liaison officer between the British and Italian commands; in August 1919 he was awarded the British Military Cross and later was appointed a cavaliere of the Crown of Italy.

Baccarini and his wife visited Australia in 1922, arriving in Sydney on 12 September in the Moreton Bay. Liking it, they decided to settle. He soon became prominent in business circles and was a founder that year of the Italian Chamber of Commerce in Australia. In 1923 he bought an interest in an import and export firm, W. Plant & Co. Ltd, and often wrote for the Sydney newspaper Italo-Australian, explaining the nature and the policies of Mussolini. In 1925 he was a founder of the local Dante Alighieri Art and Literary Society and was its president in 1927-35. He was a member of the Royal Society of New South Wales from 1923.

Baccarini visited England and Italy in 1927-28, and upon his return to Sydney lectured in Italian for the University Extension Board. In 1931 he was naturalized; describing himself as an agent, he lived at Woollahra until 1953. In the 1930s he wrote articles and lectured on his native country's culture, language and literature and was responsible also for the production of some modern plays. In 1938-40 he conducted special language courses for teachers for the Department of Education. In 1936 Baccarini's pamphlet, What for?, supporting Fascist aggression against Ethiopia, had attracted the attention of the Australian government for its objectionable comments on the British Empire. He was interned from June 1940 until March 1944.

After World War II, as a lecturer, Baccarini continued to be involved in the affairs of the Italian community in Sydney and contributed to several ethnic newspapers. In 1948 he again attracted the attention of the government with a speech praising Mussolini and Fascism at a reception for the Italian Opera Company. He divorced his wife in 1951 and married Phyllis Hope Raymond, a schoolteacher, on 6 March 1954. He died on 6 February 1971 in Balmain Hospital and was buried in the Northern Suburbs Catholic cemetery, survived by a son of his first marriage and by his second wife.

Select Bibliography

  • Italian Bulletin of Australia, 17 June 1927
  • Sunday Telegraph (Sydney), 5 Dec 1948
  • Daily Telegraph (Sydney), 9 Dec 1948
  • G. Cresciani, Fascism, Anti-Fascism and Italians in Australia, 1922-1945 (M. A. Hons thesis, University of Sydney, 1978).

Citation details

Gianfranco Cresciani, 'Baccarini, Antonio (1887–1971)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/baccarini-antonio-5086/text8487, published first in hardcopy 1979, accessed online 21 November 2017.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 7, (MUP), 1979

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