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Anna Kuliscioff (1857–1925)

Author of Io in te cerco la vita. Lettere di una donna innamorata della libertà

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35 (1) Epistolario (1) literature (1) politics (1) saggi (1) socialism (1)
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Short biography
Anna Kuliscioff was born Anja Moiseyeva Rozenstein to a Jewish family living near Simferopol in the Crimea. In 1871, after studying foreign languages with private tutors, she went to the Zürich Polytechnic to study engineering; she also took courses in philosophy. In Zurich, she met numerous political exiles, who introduced her to anarchist ideas and literature. In 1873 she abandoned her studies and married Pyotr Marcelovich Macarevich, a Russian revolutionary of aristocratic background. The couple went to Odessa and Kiev to work for revolutionary groups. In 1874, Macarevich was arrested and sentenced to five years of hard labor for his political activities. He died in prison. Using a false passport, Anja left Russia and moved to Paris, where she joined a small anarchist group that followed Mikhail Bakunin. There she met Andrea Costa, an Italian anarchist, with whom she had a passionate relationship that lasted for five years, during which they were constantly separated by imprisonment and exile. In Paris, she was first documented using the surname Kuliscioff. She was imprisoned by the French authorities, but after being released on the intercession of novelist Ivan Turgenev, was expelled from the country. She and Costa went to Italy, where she was again imprisoned for plotting against the state. She contracted tuberculosis and later developed a severe bone disease. In 1881, reunited with Costa in his home town of Imola, Anna gave birth to a daughter. However, their relationship ended with Kuliscioff leaving Italy with her infant to study medicine in Bern, Switzerland. She continued her studies in Naples and despite her poverty and struggles as a single mother, she graduated as doctor of medicine in 1885. She specialized in obstetrics and gynecology and opened a medical practice in Milan, caring for working women and the poor. She gave up this work in 1891 because of ill health and in order to devote herself to politics. She became one of Italy’s leading feminists and concerned herself mainly with the conditions of working class women. In 1890, she gave her first public lecture on feminism, “The Monopoly of Man,” which was published immediately afterwards. In 1885, she met Filippo Turati, a lawyer and poet who became her partner for the next 25 years. Together they founded the Milan Socialist League, the basis for the Italian Socialist Party, and the famous journal Critica Sociale, whose contributors included Friedrich Engels, August Bebel, and Jean Jaurès. Their apartment in Milan became a salon that hosted journalists, socialist leaders, and workers. At the beginning of the 20th century, Kuliscioff helped formulate the first Italian laws protecting working women, her main contribution to Italian politics and social welfare.
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