A man of eclectic tastes, Wolf Mankowitz came to prominence as an author in the 1950s but many felt he failed to fully capitalize on his potential. The second son of an immigrant Russian Jew, he was raised in London's East End and attended the University of Cambridge on scholarship. After graduating, Mankowitz became a lecturer, magazine editor and owner of an antiques shop. He later came to be recognized as an expert in Wedgwood and published several monographs and encyclopedia about pottery and porcelain. With the publication of his first novel "Make Me an Offer" in 1952, he drew on his background as an antiques expert. Mankowitz adapted it as a stage musical before it was turned into a 1954 feature. The following year, he wrote his first screenplay, the charming "A Kid for Two Farthings" (1954), a semi-autobiographical series of vignettes directed by Carol Reed set in the Jewish quarter of London near Petticoat Lane which drew on Yiddish folklore as well as the author's childhood memories. After much stage work, he penned the film musical "Expresso Bongo" (1959), about a scheming talent agent, as well as adaptations of George Bernard Shaw's play "The Millionairess" (1960), the Jean Anouilh comedy "Waltz of the Toreadors" (1962) and L.P. Hartley's novel "The Hireling" (1973).
Faced with ill heath and tax problems, Mankowitz decamped to Ireland in the early 70s. A TV version of his biography "Dickens of London" was made for Yorkshire Television in 1976 and aired on PBS' "Masterpiece Theatre" the following year. He later became an adjunct professor at the University of New Mexico (1982-1988) and published a number of novels. Mankowitz made a one-shot return to films, providing the screenplay for the 1983 documentary on Yiddish filmmaking, "Almonds and Raisins" (1983).