Longhi, Lucia Lopresti (1895–1985)

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Longhi, Lucia Lopresti (1895–1985)

Italian biographer, translator, novelist, founder and editor of Paragone, who focused on women's place in Italian society. Name variations: (pseudonym) Anna Banti. Born Lucia Lopresti in 1895 in Florence, Italy; died in 1985 in Ronchi, Italy; educated at University of Rome; married art historian Robert Longhi (died 1970).

Selected works:

Itinerario di Paolina (Guide to Paolina, 1937); Il corraggio delle donne (The Courage of Women, 1940); Artemisia (1947, translation by Shirley D'Ardia Caracciolo, University of Nebraska Press, 1995); Il bastardo (The Bastard, 1953); Un grido lacerante (A Piercing Cry, 1981); Quando anche le donne si misero a dipingere (When Women Too Began to Paint, 1982).

Lucia Lopresti Longhi lived in some of Italy's greatest cities and found the inspiration for much of her literary work among its paintings. Raised in Rome and Bologna, she was educated primarily in art history, taking a degree at the University of Rome. There she met Robert Longhi, an art historian, whom she married. The couple later co-founded the journal Paragone, of which she was literary, and he artistic, editor.

Assuming the name of a childhood acquaintance, Anna Banti, for her pseudonym, Longhi began writing in her 30s and would produce more than 20 books, not all of her which were written in Italian. The first, Itinerario di Paolina, published in 1937, was a collection of short stories. Among her most famous novels was the recreation of 16th-century painter Artemisia Gentileschi 's life, Artemisia, published in 1947, an amazing feat in light of the fact that her original manuscript was lost during World War II and had to be entirely rewritten. She also translated William Makepeace Thackeray's Vanity Fair and Virginia Woolf 's Jacob's Room.

In 1940, the Longhis settled permanently in Florence. When Robert died in 1970, Lucia assumed his duties in addition to her own at Paragone. One of her last novels was the autobiographical work Un grido lacerante (A Piercing Cry), published when the author was 86. Of primary importance throughout her writing was Longhi's belief that women were assigned to unfulfilling tasks in life.

sources:

Bondanella, Peter, and Julia Conaway Bondanella, eds. Dictionary of Italian Literature. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1979.

Buck, Claire, ed. The Bloomsbury Guide to Women's Literature. NY: Prentice Hall, 1992.

Russell, Rinalda. Italian Women Writers. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1994.

Wilson, Katherina M., ed. An Encyclopedia of Continental Women Writers. NY: Garland Publishing, 1991.

Crista Martin , freelance writer, Boston, Massachusetts