Ada Negri

ADA NEGRI was born on February 3, 1870 in the town of Lodi, near Milan. At eighteen, she left home to become an elementary-school teacher in a rural Lombard town and began to publish her first poems, pursuing the theme of social injustice, which derived from her first-hand experience of the plight of the working class.

In 1894, with the publication of her first volume of poetry, Fatalità, Negri obtained an appointment to the normal school at Milan and won the Milli Prize, which provided her with a small stipend and freed her to devote her time to writing. In 1895, she published Tempeste/Tempests, where she continued to pursue the theme of social injustice.

In 1896, she married industrialist Giovanni Garlanda, and by 1904, they had two daughters. In 1913, Negri separated from her husband, moving to Switzerland with her surviving daughter, Bianca. Her poetry turned to personal conflicts as well as her dread of the imminent world war. After she re-entered Italy, she had a tormented love affair, the experience she described in Il libro di Mara/The Book of Mara (1919).

Toward the end of March 1923, Negri enjoyed a brief holiday in Sicily and from there she went to the island of Capri, where she stayed for about a year and wrote I Canti dell’Isola/Songs of the Island.

In 1943, in an attempt to escape the horrors of the Second World War, Negri moved to her daughter’s home in Bollate, near Milan. But, from there, she could still hear the constant bombings on Milan. She moved farther: first to Gajone, then Pavia, to no avail. The war brought her such anguish that she requested her final work, Fons Amoris, be published only after the war had ended. By 1944, Negri had returned to Milan, after taking up residence in numerous places, and there she died on January 11, 1945, four months short of the end of the war that haunted her final years.

Negri had an international reputation. She published ten volumes of poetry, eight prose stories and one novel, Stella Mattutina / Morning Star. In 1940 Negri became the first woman admitted into the Royal Academy of Italy.


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