- Bianca PitzornoItaly ★ Author
Bianca Pitzorno was born in Sassari in 1942, but lives and works in Milan. After a formal education in archeology and classical literature, Pitzorno began her career producing television programs. She became an author of books for girls at the age of 28, and has so far produced over 40 novels and picture books for children and teenagers, as well as plays for theater, and screen and song lyrics. About one third of her books have been translated, often into several languages. Regarded as Italy’s most important living author, Pitzorno unashamedly writes primarily for and about girls.
Pitzorno’s interest in history and the classics is readily evident in many of her works. Many are historical novels, although her favorite period is that of her own childhood, the late 1940s and early 1950s. She regards this period as Italy’s own childhood, “a period of new beginnings…of material deprivation combined with exciting plans for the future”, and she believes that the connection between the country’s “infancy” and her characters’ development is one reason why her books are so popular. She also makes use of fantasy settings and fairy tale like settings in an unspecified historical era. Polissena del Porcello [Polisenna and Her Pig], for instance, begins with the young girl’s discovery that she is not the daughter of the couple who have raised her. She returns to the orphanage from which she is adopted to seek clues about the identity of her biological parents. She finds a “baby” on the doorstep, but the baby turns out to be a piglet. Polisenna sets off on her quest for her parents, pig in tow, making for a humorous combination of fairytale and epic quest.
A left-wing feminist, Pitzorno is convinced that “as a woman, I only know about the interior life of girls.” Her female characters are tough, lively girls, often tomboys who rely on their wits not their feminine charms to resolve the issues they face. They enter adventure stories and quest narratives more usually associated with stories depicting male characters. She responds to criticisms that the complex allusions to classical literary works in many texts are only accessible to middle-class, well-educated readers by referring to Tolkein and his idea that young readers should be challenged to read works they find difficult, books that are “one size too large.”
A UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, Pitzorno has been instrumental in establishing a library project with Cuba, which makes works written in Italian as well as works translated from Italian available to children. Many of these books are then distributed throughout the Spanish speaking Caribbean. In the opposite direction, Pitzorno also promotes translations of Cuban literature for Italian children.