Maria Antonietta Macciocchi was born in Isola del Liri, Italy. Her parents were anti-fascists, and she joined the underground Italian Communist Party during the German Occupation of World War II. She had a daughter with Pietro Amendola, a fellow Communist. In 1950, she became editor of the women's magazine of the Party, Vie Nuove. She then joined the newspaper l'Unità and served as the foreign correspondent in Algiers and Paris. She married and later divorced Alberto Jacoviello, another journalist on the paper. In the 1960s, she lectured at the University of Paris VIII-Vincennes in France and earned a doctoral degree in political science at the Sorbonne. Her 1974 book on Antonio Gramsci, published in France as Pour Gramsci, was credited with introducing the Italian Marxist philosopher to French intellectuals. In 1968, she returned to Italy to run for elected office in Naples. She travelled to China for l'Unità in 1972, and later wrote a book praising the Cultural Revolution. In 1977, she was expelled from the Italian Communist Party for supporting "Maoist agitators" in Bologna. In 1979, she was elected a member of the European Parliament for the Radical Party. She continued to write for major newspapers such as Corriere della Sera, Le Monde and El Pais. Among her 15 books were an autobiography, Duemila anni di felicità (2000 Years of Happiness, 1983), and books about Eleonora Fonsecca and Luisa Sanfelice, two heroines of the short-lived Neapolitan republic of 1779.