1 Paste your biographical sketch here (maximum 500 words)
Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa was born in Palermo in 1896. His distant father was Giulio Maria Tomasi di Lampedusa, Prince of Lampedusa, and his mother, a strong and lifelong influence, was Beatrice Mastrogiovanni Tasca Filangieri di Cutò. His great grandfather, Don Giulio Fabrizio Tomasi -the last of the Lampedusa to hold major political and economic power in Sicily- served as inspiration for the partially biographic work The Leopard. On his father side he was also related to multiple literary figures, including his laureate cousin Lucio Piccolo and man of letters and nephew Gioacchino Lanza. On his mother side, he was a cousin of the famous 20th century figure Fulco di Verdura.
Giuseppe was raised in an aristocratic and high cultured milieu. His mother’s family money supplied a comfortable lifestyle for the otherwise ruined Lampedusa’s, who had had their estate squandered in lawsuits following Giuseppe’s great-grandfather’s death without a will. The family split their time between their palazzo in Palermo and the Filangieri di Cuto’s summer residence in Santa Margherita di Belize, where theater companies would stage plays for the family within the palace. These palaces would later become the backdrops for the spaces in The Leopard, including filming locations for Visconti’s movie. Lampedusa was largely educated by tutors, his mother and grandmother. The places, sensations and family history, the fleeting sense of a time past, merged with a boy obsessed with observation and record keeping, would later be crucial for the formation of the 20th century Italian literary masterpiece.
Lampedusa studied the law in Genoa and Turin and served as an artillery officer during The Great War. He was captured in battle and escaped from a war prisoner camp in Hungary. During the 20’s Lampedusa suffered a nervous breakdown which discouraged him from a diplomatic career; he continued the rest of the decade lavishly traveling around Europe with his mother. In 1932 he married German-Latvian aristocrat Alexandra von Wolff-Stormersee. They separated following tensions between Alexandra and Beatrice. In 1940 Lampedusa served again in Marmaduca and was later president of the Sicilian Red Cross. In 1943 an Allied raid bombed Palermo and destroyed the Palazzo Lampedusa, an event that depressed the already somber Lampedusa and intensified the impulse behind the ouvre of immortalizing the Lampedusa family in The Leopard.
By the time he set to write The Leopard in the 1955, Lampedusa had contemplated writing the novel for 25 years. He worked laboriously the next two years and finished the project in 1957. The 22nd of July 1957 Giuseppe di Lampedusa read a rejection letter from the publisher Einaudi. Two days later Lampedusa died from lung cancer. He willed his estate to his cousin Gioacchino Lanza Tomasi, with whom he had become close in later years. Lanza Tomasi saw the Leopard through Feltrinelli’s publication in 1958 and managed the subsequent fame of the work and legacy of the author. Lampedusa died childless and with him ended the line of princes of Lampedusa.