Maria Volpi Nannipieri was born in Bologna, Italy, to a middle-class family that moved to Livorno when she was a small child. In 1912, they moved to Milan, where she went to work as a journalist for the Italian Touring Club and the newspapers and magazines published by Sonzogno. She traveled widely, reporting from France, the USA, Brazil, Indonesia, Thailand, and Libya. She branched out to writing movie screenplays and books for children, then to romantic novels for adults, choosing the pseudonym "Mura," the nickname of Maria Nicolaievna Tarnowska, a Russian countess tried and convicted for murder in Italy. Many of her books were bestsellers thanks to the support of her publisher, Sonzogno, and that of her mostly female audience. She was a prolific writer: in her 20-year career, she produced 30 novels, four volumes of women's studies, travel writing, films scripts, and hundreds of short stories. Many of her novels were first published in serial form. Her debut novel Perfidie (Treachery) appeared in 1919. Piccola (Small, 1921) was her first big success. In 1934, she published Sambadù, amore negro (Sambadù, Black Love), about a marriage between a black African engineer and a young Italian widow. Fascist dictator Benito Mussolini was angered by the content of the book, which was published around the time of his invasion of Ethiopia, and confiscated all copies; he also ordered the withdrawal from newsstands of the newspaper La Voce di Mantova which had given it a good review. Mura was put under surveillance by the Fascist government. She died in a plane crash in 1940 on the island of Stromboli.