Carlo Collodi is the pen name of Carlo Lorenzini, journalist and writer (Florence, 1826-1890), son of Domenico Lorenzini, chef to the Ginori counts, and Angiolina (Maria Angela) Orzali, eldest daughter of the Garzoni’s farm manager. Carlo was born in Florence and then spent several of his childhood years in Collodi, with his mother’s family. He subsequently attended religious schools in Colle Val d’Elsa, where he stayed in the seminary from 12 to 16 years of age, and then studied in Florence with the Piarists.
His professional career as a writer began at around 20 years of age, when he drafted the commentated catalogues of a prestigious Florentine bookshop, after which he started publishing (1847) in “L’Italia Musicale”, one of the most important specialised magazines of the time. His world-famous masterpiece, The Adventures of Pinocchio, is a work of his later years (1881-1883), when he was already a well-known journalist and writer.
As a journalist, he founded and directed several newspapers, including “Il Lampione”, which was closed by the censors after the 1848 uprising, but which Lorenzini reopened in 1860, after the end of the Grand Duchy and the plebiscite for the annexation of Tuscany to the Kingdom of Sardinia. Its pages include finely humorous articles together with extraordinary political cartoons.
Collodi was a true Risorgimento intellectual: he committed himself personally to the cause of Italian Unification as a military volunteer, both in 1848 and in 1860. In the intervening years, he devoted himself to writing plays and short stories. In 1856, he began using the pseudonym Collodi, with which he signed all his books for children and schools, among other works.
His first children’s book was published in 1876: Tales of the Fairies, translations of some French literary fairy tales (by authors such as Perrault, Madame Leprince de Beaumont and Madame d’Aulnoy). This was followed by a series of school books (1877-1890), in which the adventures of a character were used to introduce the concepts and notions to be learned. Books such as Giannettino and Minuzzolo were appreciated and widely used in the newly established Italian compulsory schools.
In 1881, he published the first instalment of the Story of a Puppet in the “Giornale per i bambini”, one of the first children’s magazines in Italy. In the same magazine, he published other short stories, including Pipì, or the little pink monkey, as a sort of self-deprecating continuation of Pinocchio. When the instalments concluded in 1883, by which time their title had been changed to The Adventures of Pinocchio, the first one-volume edition of The Adventures of Pinocchio: the story of a puppet was then published.
Carlo Collodi had a life which was rich in both personal and literary experiences. His biography written by the son of his youngest brother Ippolito, Paolo Lorenzini (pen name: Collodi’s Nephew) witnesses of such a life, as well as his correspondence with fellows and friends.
Collodi died suddenly in Florence, where he lived with his brother Paolo, in 1890. He was buried in the family grave at the San Miniato al Monte monumental cemetery in Florence. The papers that he kept in his studio at the time of death were selected by his brother and his dear friend Giuseppe Rigutini and donated to the National Central Library of Florence, where they are still preserved.
Rigutini composed the memorial plaque at the birthplace of the writer’s mother, Angiolina Orzali, in Collodi. The plaque was installed two years after his death, with the agreement of the Municipality of Pescia.