Elsa Morante

Internationally renowned for her novels La storia (History) and L’isola di Arturo (Arturo’s Island), Italian writer Elsa Morante (1912–1985) was one of the most versatile writers of her time. The natural daughter of a Jewish teacher who remained married to her children’s official father, a tutor in a youth custody centre, Morante had no formal schooling until her teens. After completing her high school education, she left home and immediately began her writing career with contributions to various magazines. 1941–42 saw the publication of her first books: a collection of short stories, a translation of Katherine Mansfield’s Scrapbook and a children’s story with her own illustrations. Having married writer Alberto Moravia, Morante followed him into hiding after he was accused of ‘anti fascist activities’, and around that time began work on the novel Menzogna e sortilegio (House of Liars), which was to be her first huge success: the Premio Viareggio she was awarded in 1948 marked the beginning of thirty years of travels and intense engagement in intellectual debate, during which she added to her publishing credits more stories and novels, as well as several essays, regular collaborations with several periodicals and a poetry collection Alibi.

– from Cristina Viti’s introduction in MPT Series 3/7 Love and War