Andrea Ragusa

Bookseller and publisher

Andrea Ragusa, Calogero Tumminelli and Guido Treves, 1931.


Rome, Milan, New York

persona fisica

Giuseppe Prezzolini

Writer, literary critic, academic, journalist, publisher

S.F. Vanni

Andrea Ragusa was born in Caltagirone in 1896. He was the fifth of seven children. He followed his family during a brief colonial period in Tunis, completing his studies in Italy later on. He fought in the First World War, earning the rank of lieutenant. In 1921 he married Anna von Weiskopf-Weiskoppen, whom he met in Innsbruck at the end of the war. He moved with her to Catania, then to Milan and later to Rome. There he managed a branch of Calogero Tumminelli's publishing company and took part in the founding of the Istituto dell'Enciclopedia Italiana Treccani. He contributed to the fertile and eventful intellectual life that revolved around the company as an administrator and the assistant of the editorial director. Between 1929 and 1931 he directed the international network of bookshops of the Treves-Treccani-Tumminelli publishing group, travelling France, Germany and South America with the task of spreading the products of Italian publishing. In 1931 he moved to New York with the task of gathering support from the Italian-American community for the Treccani encyclopaedic project. 

Faced with insurmountable difficulties, he abandoned the enterprise and took over S. F. Vanni, an Italian-American emporium-bookstore, with the goal of turning it into the largest and most popular Italian bookstore in the United States. Ragusa restructured and expanded the catalogue of newspapers, magazines and volumes available, dedicating more space to quality publishing, school books and classics. During the 1930s Ragusa devoted himself to various projects in association with Giuseppe Prezzolini and the Casa Italiana of Columbia University. He supported the creation of a Permanent Exhibition of Italian Books, printed two periodicals for the Casa Italiana, co-managed a book club with the Casa Italiana dedicated to Italian culture, and produced several series of books, some of which were bilingual editions. 

After the difficult years of the Second World War, Ragusa resumed his activities under a new name: S.F. Vanni Publishers and Booksellers. The firm was no longer Italian by name: the catalogue was in fact reoriented in a European direction, while the bookshop physically moved from the Italian area of Greenwich Village to the vicinity of Washington Square, near the prestigious Fifth Avenue. In collaboration with scholars such as Mario Pei and Emiliano Peruzzi, Ragusa added new texts for learning French and Spanish to the volumes for teaching Italian. Italian language and culture, however, remained at the heart of the S.F. Vanni editions, with a production of two to four titles per year. Among the most interesting series are 'Casa Italiana Collection of Italian Classics', with facing texts (Dante, Guicciardini, Carducci), and 'Old and New Sheaves', with rare texts by D'Annunzio, Livingston and Pareto.
When Ragusa died in 1974, his daughters Olga and Isa took over the bookshop.

Related Vectors

S.F. Vanni

Giuseppe Prezzolini

Writer, literary critic, academic, journalist, publisher

Media gallery


Prezzolini, Giuseppe. 1954. L'Italiano inutile. Memorie letterarie di Francia, Italia e America. Milano: Longanesi.

Ragusa, Olga, and Giuseppe Prezzolini. 2001. Gli anni americani di Giuseppe Prezzolini : il Dipartimento d'italiano e la Casa italiana della Columbia University. Firenze: Le Monnier.

Ragusa, Olga, and Paolo Bagnoli. 2004. Andrea Ragusa : editore-libraio italiano a New York dal 1931 al 1974. Firenze: Polistampa - Fondazione Spadolini Nuova antologia.

Author Giulia Pellizzato