top of page

Henry Shanks

Henry Shanks (1868-1949), born in Moscow, was the second son of James Stuart Shanks.  Henry managed the Shanks & Co business with his older brother James Jnr.  Henry married Emilie Catoire and had one child, George Shanks.

The Shanks family were close friends of the Catoire Family. The Shanks lived in the home of the Catoirs for 5 years from 1877 to 1882.


Around 1895 aged 27, Henry converted to Catholicism and married Emilie Catoire.  No doubt Henry and Emily had been childhood friends when the Shankses were living in the Catoire home.  


Henry and his family first lived in the Shanks shop before moving into an apartment in number 4 Kolpachny Lane not far from the Pakroffka. 

Henry stayed on in Moscow when the rest of the family had returned to England during the First World War.  He was the last of the Shankses to leave Russia after the revolution and he manage to smuggle out a diamond necklace which he was able to sell in Amsterdam for enough to buy their family home in France.  Sadly this home was to be destroyed in WW II.

George Shanks

George Shanks (1896 - 1957) was the only child of Henry Shanks.  By 1918, when it became clear that the Shanks famly had lost its Moscow businesses, George was 22 years of age.  His calling in life had been lost and George was seeking a new direction.  In 1919 George commissioned the Shanks family tree and coat of arms (bottom left).  This contrived English aristocratic heritage suggests that George was seeking a new identity having lost his Russian home and business.   In spite of this, George was to leave a significant mark on British history through his work as a translator and his pioneering work at Radio Normandy.

George was one of the founders of Radio Normandy.  In 1939 Radio Normady closed down after failing to convince the War Office that it had a role in contributing to the war effort.

The following story is recounted by Roger Bickerton:  In 1932 Radio Normandy "needed something positive to convince advertisers that our listeners could constitute a genuine market. The breakthrough came from an associate of Plugge's, one George Shanks ... [he] came across a recipe for a face beautifying cream.

As a matter of fun, he went to the chemist, bought the ingredients and cooked it up on the gas stove in the back kitchen of his mother's house [Emilie Shanks], no. 10, Great Stanhope Street - one of the poshest streets in Mayfair, bombed out of existence in the war. Along comes Plugge to me with 2 pots of this stuff - could I advertise it? It was called Renis Face Cream by Classic Beauty Preparations Max Staniforth, who was still with me, was a good classical scholar, and we made up a story together about a beautiful Persian Princess.... and although its recipe had been lost, it had recently been rediscovered, analysed and the contents refined. It was now available to the ladies of Britain in pink glass pots at 2s. 3d. (11 p.) each, post free from 10, Great Stanhope Street.

This caused a terrible domestic row with Shanks' mother, as it sold and sold and the kitchen couldn't cope with it, so Plugge had to put it out to a proper chemist. That's what convinced the advertising fraternity that radio could sell."

Having been born in Moscow, George, like his sibilings, spoke Russian.  In 1920 he anonomously translated the notorious publication known as The Protocols of Zion. Until 1978 this translation was attributed to Victor E. Marsden.  George is known to have engaged in a dispute with the magazine 'The Britons' over payment of the royalties to which he was entitled regarding their publication of The Jewish Peril.

Read more about George Shanks

bottom of page