Born in Paris in 1930, Amelia Rosselli was seven when her father and uncle, exiled leaders of the Italian Resistance, were murdered by Fascist killers. After the Nazi invasion of France, Rosselli’s English mother fled with her family first to England, then to Larchmont, NY (where Fermi, Toscanini and Salvemini, a family friend, had also been directed by the Mazzini Society). At sixteen, after a brief period in Florence, Rosselli returned to England on account of her academic qualifications not being recognized in Italy, and began the study of music while finishing high school in London and acquainting herself with English labourism. In 1948 she moved back to Italy and began to work as a translator, despite suffering her first nervous breakdown following the death of her mother. Between 1952 and 1960 she published several important essays on acoustics and ethnomusicology.
In 1950, at the Resistance congress in Venice, she met Rocco Scotellaro (see MPT 3/10) and Carlo Levi. The beginning of the deep friendship with Scotellaro, which lasted until he died, aged thirty, three years later, coincided with Rosselli’s beginnings as a poet, though it was his politically engaged prose (and especially the unfinished reportage Contadini del sud) that Rosselli felt and openly acknowledged as a direct influence – perhaps because it confirmed her sense of the practice of writing as a political activity that carries precise responsibilities (first and foremost the duty to remain silent rather than indulging in populism or irrelevance).
At twenty-nine Rosselli renounced the formal music studies that had taken her to Darmstadt and Paris to give total attention to writing, living alone as a rank and file member of the Communist Party in Christian-Democrat Italy, fighting isolation, breakdowns and their associated catalogue of invasive treatments on the income of a poet unaffiliated to any academic institution, impatient of ‘neoavanguardia’ polemics and disdainful of drawing-room tactics.
– from Cristina Viti’s introduction in MPT 3/13 Transplants