Author. He received notoriety as an Italian poet, novelist, dramatist, short-story writer, and newspaper journalist. He was known for having a colorful career with many love affairs during a time when his country was in political unrest if not at war, yet his poems are considered masterpieces of modern Italian literature. Born the son of a politically prominent and wealthy landowner, he was well-educated at the University of Rome. At the age of sixteen, he published his first collection of poems, “In Early Spring” in 1879. The autobiographical novel in 1889 “The Child of Pleasure,” first introduced his Nietzschean superheroes that addressed human values or the lack of them. This followed with “The Intruder” in 1892, “The Triumph of Death” in 1894, and “The Maiden of Rock” in 1896, which featured viciously self-seeking and wholly amoral heroes. A “New York Times” newspaper critic called his novel “The Intruder” as being “evil.” Other poetic collections were “In Praise of Sky, Sea, Earth, and Heroes” in 1899 and an autobiography series “Alcyone” in 1904. His plays include “La Gioconda,” which was performed in 1899 and “Francesca da Rimini,” which was performed 1901. His 1914 “Ode to the Serbian Nation” was his last collection of poetry. In 1897 D’Annunzio was elected to the Chamber of Deputies for a three-year term, where he sat as an independent with ultra-right-wing views. While living a life of luxury, he acquired 22 dogs and eight horses in one shopping trip. His extravagant, narcissistic lifestyle and obsession with his appearance led to indebtedness, which forced him to flee to France in 1910, but at the dawn of World War I, he returned to his homeland. After being a soldier during World War I, he became very political. As a pilot during the war, he lost the sight of one eye during an accident. With a great following of Italian citizens, he gave powerful balcony speeches. His poetry could easily trigger riots. In 1919, while donned in the attire of an ace fighter pilot, he led a troop of 200 Blackshirt mutineers, with no serious military opposition, into the Croatian port city of Fiume, where he established a delinquent utopia full of criminals, anarchists, and other characters selling drugs and sex. Although he never declared himself a fascist, his political viewpoints were very much in line with those of Benito Mussolini, the Italian Fascist leader from 1922 to 1945. When Rome was invaded by the Mussolini’s fascists in late 1921, songs learned in his utopia were sung loudly by his Blackshirts. In 1921 he returned to Italy purchasing a huge estate. In 1922, he suffered from serious injuries after a fall from a window. The reason for the fall is questionable as some sources state he was pushed by a political enemy while others state he fell by himself after drinking too much alcohol or maybe cocaine. After this incident, his health was on the decline. In 1924 he was given the hereditary Italian title of Prince of Montenevoso. In 1937 he was made president of the Royal Academy of Italy. He died from a cerebral accident at his home in 1938. Although a political threat to Mussolini, he was given a state funeral and interred in a white marble tomb. His grave has become a symbol of Italian nationalism with numerous visitors every year. Becoming the Duke of Gallese, after his 1883 marriage to the Roman aristocrat Maria Hardouin di Gallese, the couple had three sons. Their youngest son, Ugo Veniero D'Annunzio, became a successful engineer in the automobile industry, an American citizen in 1930, yet supporting fascist politics like his father. Another son was in Italian member of parliament and the other became an actor. Their marriage ended in 1891 with many very public love affairs including actress Eleonora Duse and then heiress Luisa Casati Gabrie. D’Annunzio was honored as the 1945 Nobel Prize in Literature Gabriela Mistral chose his first name as part of her pseudonym. Numerous films have been made with adaptations of his writings as well as his personal life. There are several biographies of his life. All of his writings have been translated to English and are still readily available today. He was honored with his image on a postage stamp.
Bio by: Linda Davis