Born into a poor family with a hard-working mother and grandmother, Ada Negri became a teacher to avoid the same difficult struggle to eke out a living, but she relied on her observations and experience as a daughter, mother, and wife to provide material for her poetry and prose. Le solitarie (Women alone, 1918) is a collection of short stories about the drudgery of poor, lonely, self-sacrificing women. Stella mattutina (Morning star, 1921) tells the story, seen through a young girl’s eyes, of the poverty and humiliation caused by women’s sordid working conditions. The poor working class is also a theme of her poetry. Her first volume of poetry, Fatalita` (Fatality, 1892), won her immediate acclaim and literary prizes, although critics have generally considered her stories and novels more successful. The poems in Il libro di Mara (Mara’s book, 1919) deal with the subject of death, while her meditations on old age provide the inspiration for Il dono (The gift, 1935). Her socialist views won the admiration of Mussolini and her appointment to his Fascist Royal Academy in 1940—an action that resulted in neglect of her work after the war. Today, however, Negri is considered one of this century’s most important forerunners in Italian women’s literature.
See also: Fantastic.
Bibliography: Costa-Zalessow, Natalia. ‘‘Ada Negri.’’ In Dictionary of Literary Biography: Twentieth-Century Italian Poets. Detroit: Gale Research, 1992. 158–65; Merry, Bruce. ‘‘Ada Negri.’’ In Italian Women Writers: A Bio-Bibliographical Sourcebook. Ed. Rinaldina Russell. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1994. 295–301.