Lalla Romano was born on 11 November 1906 in Piedmont. She was interested in painting from an early age and, while studying literature at the University in Turin, she also was attended the Felice Casorati art school. After graduating she started working in the Cuneo library and later moved to Turin with her husband, Innocenzo Monti, and there started to teach art history in lower secondary school. During the Second World War she returned to live with her mother in Cuneo and was later involved in the Resistance movement.
After the war she joined her husband in Milan and starts teaching again. She also started to write and in 1951 published Le metamorfosi, a series of short texts dedicated to the description of dreams. Her first novel, Maria, the story of a complicated servant-mistress relationship, was published in 1953 and her second, Tetto murato, was published in 1957. In 1960 a travel book, Diario di Grecia.
A introverted and reserved woman, Lalla Romano lived a very private life, with limited contact with the intellectual and literary world. Her writing is often autobiographical, and describes family life, including the half truths and difficulties typical of the middle classes in the northern Italy. La penombra che abbiamo attraversato, published in 1964, evokes her childhood in the countryside near Cuneo and her mother’s death.
Le parole tra noi leggere, which won the Premio Strega in 1969, brought her to the attention of a wider public. In this novel Lalla Romano describes and analyses her relationship with her son, a difficult, antisocial and anticonformist young man.
The protagonist of the novel L’ospite (1973) is a child affected by the complication of a failed marriage, and a failed marriage is also the theme in the novel Inseparabile.
While writing, she also worked as a journalist for several newspapers, including Il Giorno, il Corriere della Sera and Il Giornale Nuovo.
She continued to write well into her old age and died on 26 June 2001, publishing several more novels.
1951 - Le metamorfosi
1953 - Maria
1957 - Tetto murato
1960 - Diario di Grecia
1961 - L'uomo che parlava solo
1964 - La penombra che abbiamo attraversato – The Penumbra, translated by Sean Williams (1999)
1969 - Le parole tra noi leggere
1973 - L'ospite
1975 - La villeggiante
1979 - Una giovinezza inventata
1979 - Lo stregone
1981 - Inseparabile
1987 - Nei mari estremi
1989 - Un sogno del Nord
1991 - Le lune di Hvar
1992 - Un caso di coscienza
1995 - Ho sognato l'Ospedale