Dolores Prato was born in Rome, Italy, to Maria Prato and an unknown father. When she was five years old, her mother sent Dolores to live with elderly relatives in the small town of Treia in the Macerata region. She attended a convent boarding school and graduated at age 18. In 1919, she obtained the qualifications for teaching Italian literature, and worked in various cities, including Sansepolcro and San Ginesio, before settling permanently in Rome in 1930. There she made friends among artists and intellectuals and the Catholic Church. As an opponent of the Fascist regime, she was forced to leave teaching, and supported herself by writing articles for newspapers and giving private lessons. After World War II, she worked for different publications, including Paese Sera. In 1948, she published her first novel, Nel paese delle campane (In the Village of the Bells), which received the City of Prato prize; it was reprinted under the title Campane a San Giocondo (Bells in San Giocondo) in 1963. Other works included Quemaduras (1967). She is best known for her bestselling autobiographical novel Giù la piazza, non c'è nessuno (Down the Square, There Is No One), which first appeared in 1980. That book had an unusual history: the first version was edited and significantly changed by its editor at Einaudi, Natalia Ginzburg, who cut it down from 700 pages to 300, and removed the novel’s linguistic peculiarities. However, Dolores Prato was unhappy with the edit and rewrote the book at age 90. Her version was finally published in 1997.