Edmondo De Amicis

Edmondo De Amicis (Italian pronunciation: [edˈmondo de aˈmiːtʃis]; 21 October 1846 – 11 March 1908) was an Italian novelist, journalist, poet and short-story writer. His best-known book is Cuore, a children's novel translated into English as Heart.

Edmondo De Amicis
Gabrielle D. Clements, Edmondo De Amicas, 1898, etching[2]
Born(1846-10-21)21 October 1846
Oneglia, Piedmont-Sardinia1
Died11 March 1908(1908-03-11) (aged 61)
Bordighera, Kingdom of Italy
Occupationnovelist, journalist, short-story writer, poet
Genrechildren's literature

Early career

Born in Oneglia (today part of the city of Imperia), he went to the Military Academy of Modena, and became an Army officer in the new Kingdom of Italy. De Amicis fought in the battle of Custoza during the Third Independence War, a defeat of Savoy forces against the Austrian Empire; the spectacle left him disappointed, and contributed to his later decision to leave military life.

In Florence, he wrote his first sketches dealing with his frontline experience, collected as La vita militare ("Military Life", 1868), and first published by the journal of the Ministry of Defense, L'Italia Militare. In 1870, he joined the staff of the journal La Nazione in Rome, and his correspondence at the time later served as base for his travel writings: Spagna (1873), Olanda (1874), Ricordi di Londra (1874), Marocco (1876), Costantinopoli (1878), Ricordi di Parigi (1879). A new edition of Costantinopoli, considered by many his masterpiece and the best description of the city in the 19th century, was published in 2005, with a foreword by Umberto Eco.

Heart success

Heart was issued by Treves on 17 October 1886, the first day of school in Italy. Its success was immense: in a few months it was printed in 40 Italian editions and translated into dozens of languages. Its praise for the creation of the united Italian state in the previous decade contributed to its reception, but also led to criticism from some Roman Catholic politicians for failing to depict the nature of the Holy See's opposition to the annexation of Rome.

Later years

The nationalist message visible in De Amicis' works was soon fused with a commitment to socialism (a trend visible within Heart). In 1896, he adhered to the Italian Socialist Party. He was elected a Foreign Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1901.[3]

His later works include: Sull'oceano (1889), dealing with the plight of Italian emigrants overseas, Il romanzo di un maestro (1890), Amore e ginnastica (1892), Maestrina degli operai (1895), La carrozza di tutti (1899), L'idioma gentile (1905), and Nuovi ritratti letterari e artistici (1908). At the same time, he contributed to the Turin-based Il Grido del Popolo - his articles were collected as Questione sociale ("Social Issues", 1894).

De Amicis died in Bordighera at the "Hotel de la Reine", which he chose because it was George MacDonald's Casa Coraggio, Bordighera. His last years were marked by tragedy and spent in reclusion; he was marked by his mother's death, and the frequent conflicts with his wife - ultimately, these were the source of an even greater emotional shock for De Amicis, as they led to his son Furio's suicide (as schoolchildren, Furio and his brother Ugo had served as inspiration for Heart).


  1. Book News. J. Wanamaker. 1895. p. 138.
  2. Book News. J. Wanamaker. 1895. p. 138.
  3. "Book of Members, 1780-2010: Chapter A" (PDF). American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Retrieved 17 April 2011.
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