Image of Matilde Serao


Lifetime: 1856 - 1927 Passed: ≈ 96 years ago


Journalist, Novelist



Matilde Serao

Matilde Serao was an Italian journalist and novelist. She was the first woman called to edit an Italian newspaper, Il Corriere di Roma and later Il Giorno. Serao was also the co-founder and editor of the newspaper Il Mattino, and the author of several novels. She never won the Nobel Prize in Literature despite being nominated on six occasions.

Serao was born in the Greek city of Patras to an Italian father, Francesco Serao, and a Greek mother, Paolina Borely (or Bonelly). Her father had emigrated to Greece from Naples for political reasons.

In 1860 the family moved back to Italy, first to Carinola and then to Naples. Serao grew up in poverty and worked as a schoolmistress, an experience later described in the preface to a book of short stories called Leggende Napolitane (Napoletan Legends, 1881). She first gained notoriety after publishing her short stories in Il Piccolo, a newspaper edited by Rocco de Zerbi and her first novel, Fantasia (Fantasy, 1883), which established her as an author capable of writing with sentiment and analytical subtleties.

She spent the years between 1880 and 1886 in Rome, where she wrote her next five volumes of short stories and novels, all dealing with the struggles of ordinary people, and distinguished by great accuracy of observation and depth of insight: Cuore infermo (1881), Fior di passione (1883), La conquista di Roma (1885), La Virtù di checchina (1884), and Piccole anime (1883).

With her husband, Edoardo Scarfoglio, she founded Il Corriere di Roma, the first Italian attempt to model a daily journal along the lines of the Parisian press. The paper was short lived, and after its demise Serao established herself in Naples where she edited Il Corriere di Napoli. In 1892 she co-founded Il Mattino with her husband, which became the most important and most widely read daily paper of southern Italy. She established and ran her own newspaper, "Il Giorno" in 1904 until her death. The stress of a journalistic career in no way limited her literary activity; between 1890 and 1902 she produced Il paese di cuccagna, Il ventre di Napoli, Addio amore, All'erta sentinella, Castigo, La ballerina, Suor Giovanna della Croce, Paese di Gesù, novels in which the character of the people is rendered with sensitive power and sympathetic breadth of spirit. Most of these have been translated into English. The late nineteenth century English novelist George Gissing read three of her works in the original Italian between November 1894 and early January 1895, namely "Gli Amanti", "Cuore Infermo" and "Fantasia".

Serao was a signatory of the 1925 Manifesto of the Anti-Fascist Intellectuals. She was one of the contributors of the Fascist women's magazine, Lidel.

She died in 1927 in Naples.

Books by Matilde Serao

Farewell Love! A Novel Cover image

Farewell Love! A Novel

Fiction Novel
Marriage Love Romance Passion

This tragic love story begins by meeting the passionate Anna Acquaviva who is willing to leave her position in society to elope with her lover after her guardian Cesare Dias will not give his consent to the marriage. Things do not turn out quite like...