Biography of Natalia
Natalia Ginzburg was born on 14th July
1916 in Palermo to Giuseppe Levi and Lidia Tanzi. Her father, from Trieste,
was at that time teaching comparative anatomy at the University of Palermo and would later become a highly renowned
biologist and histologist. Her mother, from Italy's Lombardy region, was the daughter of Carlo Tanzi,
a socialist lawyer and friend of Turati. Other famous figures in Natalia's family included her mother's uncle Eugenio
Tanzi, a psychiatrist, her mother's brother Silvio Tanzi, a musicologist who died prematurely,
and her father's brother Cesare Levi, a theatre critic and academic.
In 1919 the Levi family moved to Turin. Natalia did not attend primary school but
studied at home.
In 1927 she enrolled at the Vittorio Alfieri high school. In 1935 she obtained her high-school diploma
and enrolled at the Faculty of Letters at university, where she attended courses given by Augusto Rostagni and
Ferdinando Neri. However, she failed to finish her degree.
Her first short stories were published in Solaria, Il Lavoro and
In 1938 she married Leone Ginzburg. In 1940 she followed her husband where he was interned in Pizzoli,
a village fifteen kilometres from L'Aquila in the Abruzzo region, with their two sons Carlo and Andrea.
In L'Aquila she gave birth to a daughter, Alessandra.
In 1942 the publisher Einaudi published her first novel, La strada
che va in città, under the pseudonym of Alessandra Tornimparte.
On 26th July 1943, Leone Ginzburg returned from internment to Turin and from there moved on to
Rome, where the underground struggle began in September. On 1st November, with their three children,
Natalia joined her husband in Rome, where they stayed in makeshift lodgings in Via XXI Aprile. On 20th
November Leone was arrested by the Italian police in the clandestine printing works in Via
Basento. He was taken to the German section of the Regina Coeli prison.
On 5th February 1944, Leone Ginzburg died in the Regina Coeli prison. From the day he was arrested, Natalia did not see her husband alive
After staying temporarily in the Ursuline convent in Nomentano, she moved
with her children to her maternal aunt's house in Florence. After Florence was liberated, she returned to Rome in
October. She took lodgings in a Waldensian guest house in S. Maria Maggiore, then stayed in a
friend's house in the Prati district. She was appointed editor for the
Einaudi publishing house.
In 1945 she returned to Turin, where she lived in her parents' old house in Via Pallamaglio (now Via
Morgari). She continued to work for the Einaudi publishing house.
In 1947 she published the novel E' stato così.
In 1950 she married Gabriele Baldini, temporary professor in English literature in Trieste.
Natalia continued to live in Turin.
In 1952 she moved to Rome with her husband. Here she published her novel Tutti i
nostri ieri (All Our Yesterdays).
In 1960 she went to London with her husband, who had been appointed to direct the
Italian institute of culture.
In 1961 she published Le piccole virtù (The Little Virtues), followed in 1962 by the short novel
Le voci della sera (Voices in the Evening). She returned with her husband to Rome and took lodgings in Piazza
In 1963 she published the autobiographical novel Lessico famigliare (Family Sayings).
In 1965 she wrote the comedy Ti ho sposato per allegria for the actress
Adriana Asti, which was staged successfully. This was followed in 1968 by the plays
L'inserzione and La segretaria.
In 1969 her husband Gabriele Baldini died in Rome.
In 1970 Ginzburg published the collection of essays Mai devi domandarmi.
In 1973 she published a collection of plays entitled Paese di mare and a half
narrative and half epistolary novel called Caro Michele, from which director Mario Monicelli made the eponymous film
In 1974 she published a collection of essays and articles entitled Vita immaginaria.
In 1977 she wrote two extended short-stories called
Famiglia and Borghesia, published under the collective title Famiglia.
In 1983 she published an historical/epistolary study entitled La Famiglia Manzoni (The Manzoni Family). She
was elected as a member of parliament for the Independent Left party.
In 1984 she published a letter-form novel La città e la casa and in 1990 the
essay Serena Cruz o la vera giustizia.
In 1991 she died in her house in Rome during the night between 6 and 7 October.
In 1999 Einaudi published her posthumous novel E' difficile
parlare di sé, the complete text of a series of radio interviews in which
she discussed her life and literary works.