Nobel Prize Winner Grazia Deledda will be celebrated in Hong Kong and Macau throughout the year 2014.

Societa’ Dante Alighieri, Beyond Thirty-Nine, and Gamigio Ltd will be promoting a series of dazzling cultural events dedicated to Italian Nobel prize winner Grazia Deledda. Further presentations will follow in March in Macau and, in May, in Hong Kong. On October 2014 City University of Hong Kong, Master in Fine Arts in Creative Writing will host an overseas writing retreat in Nuoro, Sardinia, Italy, which will feature the work of Nobel prize author Grazia Deledda.

The first event will be staged at the spectacular Ferrari’s showroom – Repulse Bay Road N.60 – on 17 of January 2014, 7 PM.

To book your place, please, write to: – Att. Ms. Tracy Chan. Sardianian wines and snacks will be freely available for all our guests. Mrs. Xu Xi, City University’s Writer-in-Residence  will explain how to cultivate and develop your writing skills – also Grazia Deledda had her own tutor – and will present the Sardinian program.

1935 Women Congress in Turkey - Turkish stamp with Grazia Deledda.
1935 Women Congress in Turkey – Turkish stamp with Grazia Deledda.

Grazia Deledda loved the parched summers and the harsh winters of Barbagia, the most secluded part of Sardinia, and the rugged simplicity of the people living there. She never joined academies, political parties, artistic movements but always remained true to her own principles. The 2013 Nobel Prize winner Alice Munro’s short stories are strikingly similar in tone and structure to those written by Grazia Deledda a century earlier.

“He must have smelled the onions on my hand, for I was preparing supper for my family!” such was Grazia Deledda pun after the Ambassador of Sweden in Rome had come knocking at her home and, while kissing her hand, announced that she had won the Nobel Prize. This innocent joke shows her true character: apparently a plain woman but endowed with a strong will coupled with a strong emotional character. In a few words: a very modern and sincere woman.



She was born in Nuoro on 27 September 1871 into a middle-class family. Her father was elected major of Nuoro in 1868. Her maternal grandfather was from Genoa or perhaps from Spain. She attended elementary school and then was educated by a private tutor on how to write. During the following years, having been barred from attending school, she built her personal culture reading and listening to popular folk tales and legends. Her native language was the Nuorese variant of the Sardinian language that she had to mentally translate into Italian while writing.

Grazia Deledda with husband and son - circa 1905.
Grazia Deledda with husband and son – circa 1905.

Deledda first published short stories like Sangue Sardo on the Roman magazine L’ultima moda in 1888. With the first money she received she bought a Bible and a blue veil made of silk. In 1900 she left for Rome after having married Palmiro Madesani, a functionary of the Ministry of War she had met in Cagliari in October 1899. He was originating from Lombardy. With him it was love at first sight. They went to see an Opera and afterward they played cards. Maesani asked her: “Who would be your ideal husband?”. She answered: “One like you!” The next morning he came back asking for her hand. They subsequently spent thirty-six years as husband and wife in Rome, having two children.


Grazia Deledda
Grazia Deledda

Grazia Deledda wrote 35 novels and 250 short stories. Here is an incomplete list of her novels, most of which are still in print in Italy and some of them abroad: Fior di Sardegna (1892); Racconti sardi (1895); Anime oneste (1895); La via del male (1896); Paesaggi sardi 1896. In 1903 she published Elias Portolu that confirmed her as a great writer. Dopo il divorzio (1902); Cenere (1904), L’edera (1908), Sino al confine (1911), Colombi e sparvieri (1912), Canne al vento (1913); Marianna Sirca (1915); L’incendio nell’oliveto (1918), La madre (1920); Il Dio dei venti (1922); La fuga in Egitto (1925); Il sigillo d’amore (1926). Cosima, a sort of autobiography was published posthumously after some censoring made by family members.


Grazia Deledda
Grazia Deledda

She was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1926 but she collected it only in 1927. She was the second woman to be awarded the Nobel for literature, after the 1909 Nobel Prize bestowed to Selma Ottilia Lovisa Lagerlöf.

Here is the motivation of Deledda’s award:

“For her idealistically inspired writings which with plastic clarity picture the life on her native island and with depth and sympathy deal with human problems in general.”

Deledda and her husband travelled for 3 days by train on a second class ticket from Rome to Stockholm.

Cenere was the inspiration for a movie by the famous Italian actress Eleonora Duse, even if Deledda had nothing to do about the writing of the script. It was a silent movie shot around Rome and not in Sardinia – the only film in which Duse ever appeared. It enjoyed little success even if it is still shown once a year at the New York Museum of Art.



Grazia Deledda
Grazia Deledda

Grazia Deledda died in Rome on 16 August 1936 of breast cancer. After the end of WWII her body was reburied at the Church of the Solitude in Nuoro. Her works were highly regarded by Luigi Capuana, Angelo de Gubernatis, Ruggero Bonghi plus some younger writers such as Marino Moretti, Enrico Thovez, Pietro Pancrazi, and Renato Serra. Today she is the guiding light for several contemporary Sardinian writers.

D.H. Lawrence wrote an introduction to the English edition of her La Madre. Luigi Pirandello had a disagreement with Deledda’s husband – who was acting as her manager – but he always respected her as a writer.


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