1938 - 2021
Italy, United States
Gaia Servadio was born in Parma on September 13th, 1938. In the early 1950s she moved to London to study figurative arts at the St. Martin’s School of Art. While in London, she met the editor George Weidenfeld, but pivotal was the meeting with «Observer» director Terence Kilmartin. A prolific writer – with a body of work comprised not only of books, but also of a sizable amount of articles and reports both in Italian and English for newspapers as «Corriere della Sera», «Il Mondo», «Times» and «Observer» – only two of her books were translated into English and published in the United States: Tanto gentile e tanto onesta, her first work, published in 1967 in Milan by Feltrinelli, and Don Giovanni (il dissoluto punito) e L’azione consiste, published in 1968 by Feltrinelli. Tanto gentile e tanto onesta was published in New York in 1968 by Farrar, Straus & Giroux under the title Melinda (a novel), and translated by L. K. Conrad. Vernon Scannel’s review for the «New Statesman» praised both Servadio’s writing style and Conrad’s translation. Don Giovanni e L’azione consiste, translated by L. K. Conrad, was published in New York in 1969 by Farrar, Straus & Giroux under the title Salome, and, Don Giovanni: notes for a new novel and notes for a new opera. In her review for «Books Abroad» (Vol. 43 No. 3, 1969), Josephine de Boer described the novel as “sprightly and keenly diverting”. British art historian William Mostyn-Owen was Servadio’s first husband, who introduced her to Mary McCarthy. In Servadio’s friends circle were also Philip Roth (who she met during a lunch in Chester Square, London), Irwin Shaw, Isaiah Berlin, Piero Sraffa, Francis Bacon, Eric Hosbawn, Antonia Fraser, and John Pope-Hennessy. Gaia Servadio died in a clinic in Rome on August 20th 2021, aged 83.
Carter, Mary. «Salome & Don Giovanni; by Gaia Servadio. Translated from the Italian by L. K. Conrad. 168 pp. New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux. $ 5.50» The New York Times
De Boer, Josephine. «Review.» Books Abroad, Summer, 1969, Vol. 43, No. 3: 394
Engel, Marian. «Comic-Strip Heroine; MELINDA. By Gaia Servadio. Translated by L. K. Conrad from the Italian, “Tanto Gentile e Tanto Onesta”. 376 pp. New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux. $ 6.95» The New York Times
Gnoli, Antonio. «Una Vita Gaia – “L’Italia a causa del suo cattolicesimo non ha mai pagato per i suoi peccati. E questo la rende decisamente diversa dal resto dell’Europa” – Da Arbasino A Mary McCarthy, da Isaiah Berlin a Piero Sraffa, la scrittrice Gaia Servadio si racconta: “Conobi Philip Roth a un pranzo a Londra. C’erano anche Martin Amis e Mick Jagger. Philip detestava Boris Johnson, marito di mia figlia. Lo definiva un “ridicolo insettone albino” per giunta antisemita”.» Dagospia
Healey, Robin. Italian Literature since 1900 in English Translation: An Annotated Bibliography, 1929-2016. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2019.
Manera, Livia. «Morta Gaia Servadio, scrittrice dai molti talenti che stregò l’Inghilterra» Il Corriere della Sera
Poore, Charles. «When the Butterfly Handles the Net» The New York Times
Spoto, Donald. «Beautiful, Gifter, Rich.» The New York Times