Lauro De Bosis

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Lauro De Bosis
Olympic medal record
Art competitions
Silver 1928 Amsterdam Dramatic works

Lauro Adolfo De Bosis (December 9, 1901 – October 3, 1931) was an Italian poet, aviator, and anti-fascist.


Lauro de Bosis was born in 1901. His mother was Lillian Vernon, a New Englander, and his father, Adolfo, a minor poet and editor of the review, Condito. Their home was a type of intellectual salon. His father translated Shelley, while Lauro himself translated tragedies by Aeschylus and Sophocles, and Frazer's Golden Bough. At university he studied chemistry.[1]


De Bosis became quickly disillusioned with Mussolini after the 1924 murder of the anti-fascist politician Giacomo Matteotti.[2] In 1928 he won a silver medal in the art competitions of the Olympic Games for his verse-drama "Icaro", an anti-fascist allegory disguised as a retelling of the Greek myth. That same year he met actress Ruth Draper and commenced a relationship that continued until his death.

De Bosis shuttled back and forth between Italy and the United States, where he taught Italian literature at Harvard.[2] In the summer of 1930, De Bosis resigned from the Italy-America Society to found the "Alleanza Nazionale" and concentrate on the group's mission—the clandestine circulation of anti-Fascist newsletters in Italy. Inspired by another anti-Fascist who earlier had flown over Milan dropping leaflets denouncing Il Duce, de Bosis decided to embark upon a similar flight over Rome.[3] The following summer De Bosis took flying lessons.

Lauro De Bosis

On October 3, with only seven-and-a-half hours flying time and a single tank of reerve fuel, de Bosis took off from Marseille. He flew from Corsica to Italy, circling his plane over the center of Rome and the Piazza Venezia, where Mussolini was sitting in council. De Bosis dropped thousands of anti-Fascist leaflets over Rome during the crowded dinner hour. He was gone by the time the Italian Air Forces responded. The small wooden plane headed out sea for Corsica and disappeared.[4] According to the pilots who had fueled the plane, he was an inexperienced pilot and had told people that he was flying from Nice to Barcelona and back and his plane had not been fueled completely. A promising poet, at the time of his death he had been editing a volume of Italian poetry for the Oxford University Press.[5][6] His papers are saved in Houghton Library, Harvard University.

In 1938, actress Ruth Draper made an endowment to maintain a lecture series on Italian culture, history and society, named after De Bosis in Harvard University.[3] In 1973 more funds were supplied by Fiat's Giovanni Agnelli Foundation.[7][8] De Bosis Committee now grants postdoctoral fellowships, invites visiting professors and organizes Colloquia in Italian studies.

Thornton Wilder dedicated his novel Ides of March (1948) to him, suggesting a parallel between de Bosis and Catullus.


  1. ^ Farrell, Joseph. "Icarus as Anti-Fascist Myth: The Case of Lauro de Bosis", Italica, Vol. 69, No. 2 (Summer, 1992), pp. 198-209, American Association of Teachers of Italian
  2. ^ a b DiMartino, Marc Alan. "Icarus", The American, June 4, 2010
  3. ^ a b "The Actress and the Poet", the Ruth Draper Momologues
  4. ^ Mitgang, Herbert. "A Need to Testify", New York Times, May 29, 1984
  5. ^ Firchow, Peter Edgerly (2002). W.H. Auden: Contexts for Poetry. University of Delaware Press. p. 97. ISBN 978-0874137668. 
  6. ^ Origo, Iris (New edition edition (1 April 2002)). A Need to Testify. Turtle Point Press. p. 86, 109. ISBN 978-1885586513.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  7. ^ Gilmore, Myron P. (1974-02-28). "ITALIAN LECTURESHIP, letter". The Harvard Crimson. Retrieved 2014-01-14. 
  8. ^ "Harvard Fills Post In Italian Studies After Long Vacancy". The Harvard Crimson. 1974-02-04. Retrieved 2014-01-14. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Diggins, John P. Mussolini and Fascism. The view from America. Princeton: Princeton UP, 1972, 430.
  • De Bosis, L. The Story of My Death. English translation by Ruth Draper. Oxford University Press, 1933

External links[edit]