Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa (born Palermo, December 23, 1896, died Rome, July 23, 1957), was Duke of Palma and Prince of Lampedusa. He is most famous for his only novel, Il gattopardo (ISBN 880781028X, first published posthumously in 1958, translated as The Leopard, ISBN 0679731210) which is set in Sicily during the Risorgimento. A taciturn and solitary man, he passed a great deal of his time reading and meditating, and used to say of himself, "I was a boy who liked solitude, who preferred the company of things to that of people."
Tomasi was born to Giulio Maria Tomasi, Prince of Lampedusa, and Beatrice Mastrogiovanni Tasca di CutÚ. He became an only child after the death (from diphtheria) of his sister. He was very close to his mother, a strong personality who influenced him a great deal, especially because his father was rather cold and detached. As a child he studied in their grnad house in Palermo with a tutor (including the subjects of literature and English), with his mother (who taught him French) and with a grandmother who read him the novels of Emilio Salgari. In the little theater of the house in Santa Margherita Belice, where he spent long vacations, he first saw a performance of Hamlet, performed by a company of travelling players.
In the army at Caporetto
Beginning in 1911, he attended the liceo classico in Roma and later in Palermo; he moved definitively to Rome in 1915 and enrolled in the faculty of Jurisprudence; however, that year he was drafted into the army, fought in the lost battle of Caporetto, and was taken prisoner by the Austrians. Held in a Hungarian POW camp, he managed to escape and return on foot to Italy. After being mustered out of the army as a lieutenant, he returned home to Sicily, alternately resting there and travelling with his mother, and conti