Fernanda Pivano Collection

Fernanda Pivano (1917-2009) essayist, translator, writer and journalist was born in Genoa on 18th July 1917.

Her education takes place in Turin where she graduates in literature, with a thesis on American literature. The beginning of her literary career dates back to 1943, when she publishes her first translation of the Spoon River Anthology by Edgar Lee Masters, under Cesare Pavese’s guidance, with Einaudi. In 1949 she marries the architect and designer Ettore Sottsass and moves to Milan. In 1956 she takes her first trip to the United States, to be followed by a number of other trips to America and other countries. After translating and studying the major American classics, she raised awareness and appreciation of Beat Generation authors in Italy. In more recent years she continued scouting for young and talented American writers soon to star on the international literary scene, promoting them with the Italian public and literary critics. She has authored about forty translations, numerous curatorships, anthologies, collections of essays and memories, two novels and an impressive number of articles, interviews and reviews. She won a high number of awards and accolades, including the Saint Vincent award for journalism (1964), the Monselice Award for translation (1975), the Giovanni Comisso Literary Prize (1985), the Estense Prize (1998), the Grinzane Cavour (2003).

Fernanda Pivano passed away on 18th August 2009.


Contents of the collection

The collection includes the library (detailed analysis, pdf 32 kb) and the personal and work archive (detailed analysis, pdf 28 kb) of Fernanda Pivano. It is a collection of published and unpublished material consisting of about 40,000 documents including monographs, periodicals, audio and video documents, press cuttings, manuscripts, correspondence, photographs and personal documents. In addition to documenting Fernanda Pivano’s life and professional path, the collection is a precious instrument for studying Twentieth century American and, consequently, European literary, cultural and social history, especially for the period between the 1950s and the end of the 1970s.


It is often the case with personal collections, that library and archive are considered separate in terms of descriptive solutions, but share elements at much deeper levels. The organic arrangement of the documents intends to highlight the relations connecting all of the material collected by Fernanda Pivano in over fifty years of work.


Research instruments

Fernanda Pivano’s library is consultable from the library’s catalogue.

Fernanda Pivano’s archive features a provisional list of folders and is being inventoried.


Methods for acquisition and accessibility conditions

The collection was gifted by Fernanda Pivano to Fondazione Benetton Studi Ricerche in 1997, and is currently deposited at Fondazione Corriere della Sera.