Isabella Morra (1520–1545)

Author of Isabella Morra: Canzoniere

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Isabella Morra or di Morra was born in Favale (now Valsinni) in southern Italy, a daughter of Giovan Michele di Morra, baron of Favale, and his wife Luisa Brancaccio. The precise year of her birth is unknown; some sources say 1515, others 1520. Her father, a man of humanist learning and a poet, educated her or had her educated in the classics. Her life changed drastically in 1528 when her father had to flee Favale for having supported the invading French army against the Emperor Charles V. Her poetry indicates that she felt herself kept a virtual prisoner by her younger brothers in the cliff-side fortress that was her home. She became friends with and exchanged letters with a neighbor, Diego Sandoval de Castro, a Spanish nobleman, but her brothers suspected an affair and murdered both Isabella and Diego. Only 13 of her poems survive, and are presumed to have been found during the investigation that followed the killings. Six years after her death, some of her poetry was published in Book 3 of the anthology Rime di diversi illustri signori napoletani (1552) by Lodovico Dolce. She received critical attention again in the early 20th century from Benedetto Croce, who edited a collection of her work called Rime.
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