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Sibilla Aleramo
(August 14, 1876 - January 13, 1960) Italy

Sibilla Aleramo



Sibilla AleramoThe carefree and happy childhood of Sibilla Aleramo, who was born Rina Faccio in Alessandria, northern Italy, and who attended only primary school, came to a dramtic end at the age of 16, when she was forced to marry the man who had raped her.

Aleramo recounts her life in Una donna, with her decision to leave both the husband who had been imposed on her and their son, was a true and accurate denunciation of the condition of women in Italy at the beginning of the century. She moved to Rome, where she lived with the poet Giovanni Cena, did voluntary social work, and engaged in the cause of Italian feminism. She was active in the National Women's Union and organized evening and holiday schools for the poor and for women.

Sibilla AleramoIn 1908, at a women's congress, she met Cordula (Lina) Poletti, a student nine year younger than herself. It was Poletti who declared her love for Aleramo and, a year later, they began the relationship which the author described in the novel Il passaggio. Their relationship came to an end after about a year, for Poletti's efforts to "masculinize" herself and not accepting the love for womens as a woman.

In 1913 Aleramo went to Paris, where she frequented the salon of Natalie Clifford Barney. Aleramo vividly described the world of Parisian lesbians through impassionated oirtraits of Colette, Barney and De Noailles.

For the rest of her life Aleramo wandered between Paris and Capri, from Corsica to Assisi. As a Communist activist in the post-war period, she incessantly travelled around Italy, giving lectures to worker and peasant groups.


Her books include:

Sibilla Aleramo

  • Una donna (A Woman, 1906)
  • Il passaggio (The Crossing, 1919)
  • Andando e stando (Moving and Being, 1921)
  • Momenti (Moments, 1921)
  • Trasfigurazione (Transfiguration, 1922)
  • Endimione (Endymion, 1923, play)
  • Poesie (Poems, 1929)
  • Gioie d'occasione (Occasional Pleasures, 1930)
  • Il frustino (The Whip, 1932)
  • Sì alla terra (Yes to the Earth, 1934)
  • Orsa minore (Ursa Minor, 1938)
  • Diario e lettere: dal mio diario (Diary of a Woman, 1945)
  • Selva d'amore (Forest of Love, 1947)
  • Aiutatemi a dire (Help Me to Speak, 1951)
  • Gioie d'occasione e altre ancora (More Occasional Pleasures, 1954)
  • Luci della mia sera (Lights of My Evening, 1956)
  • Lettere (Letters, 1958)

Source: Aldrich R. & Wotherspoon G., Who's Who in Gay and Lesbian History, from Antiquity to WWII, Routledge, London, 2001

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