Vivanti, Annie (1868–1942)

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Vivanti, Annie (1868–1942)

Italian poet and novelist . Born in 1868 in London, England; died in 1942 in Turin, Italy; daughter of an Italian father and Anna Lindau (a German writer); trained as a teacher of singing and languages; mentored by Italian poet Giosuè Carducci; married John Chartres (a lawyer), in 1908; children: one daughter.

Selected writings:

(poetry) Lirica (Lyric, 1890); Marion, artista da caffè concerto (Marion, Café Entertainer, 1891); The Devourers (1910); (play) L'invasore (The Invader, 1917); Zingaresca (Gypsy Love, 1918); Naja Tripudians (1921); (short stories) Perdonate Eglantina! (Forgive, Eglantina!, 1926); (travel) Terra di Cleopatra (Cleopatra's Land, 1925).

Annie Vivanti was born in 1868 in London to an Italian father and a German mother, the writer Anna Lindau . While her first ambition was to become an actress, she trained as a teacher of singing and languages, although she did not pursue a teaching career. Instead she followed in her mother's footsteps by becoming a writer.

In 1908, Vivanti married Irish lawyer and patriot John Chartres, and they spent some time in the United States, his adopted home. Prior to her marriage, Vivanti had lived in Italy, where she had become intimate with Giosuè Carducci (1835–1907), the dean of Italian poets. Carducci sponsored both her first book of poetry, Lirica (Lyric, 1890) and her novel Marion, artista da caffè concerto (Marion, Café Entertainer, 1891); her own influence can be detected in his late poetry. Despite Carducci's endorsement, critical response to both of these early works was dismissive.

In 1910, she published a novel in English, The Devourers (issued in Italian in 1911 as I divoratori), then followed it with over 20 books, including novels, short stories, plays, and travelogues. Like her first novel, many of Vivanti's longer works of fiction were largely autobiographical and preoccupied with the dilemmas facing the woman artist; The Devourers, for example, explored the way children can destroy the lives of their mothers.

Despite this prolific output, Vivanti's reputation had declined by the Second World War. The last few years of her life were spent entirely alone, after her daughter's death in an aerial bombardment early in the war. Vivanti died in Turin in 1942.


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

Columbia Dictionary of Modern European Literature. 2nd ed. NY: Columbia University Press, 1980.

Paula Morris , D.Phil., Brooklyn, New York