He was born in Bellano, beside the Lake of Como. He took his degree in law at Pavia in 1810, and proceeded thence to Milan to exercise his profession; but the Austrian government, suspecting his loyalty, interfered with his prospects, and in consequence Grossi was a simple notary all his life. That the suspicion was well grounded he soon showed by writing the battle poem La Prineide (1814) in Milanese, in which he described with vivid colours the tragical death of Giuseppe Prina, chief treasurer during the Empire, whom the people of Milan, instigated by Austrian agitators, had torn to pieces and dragged through the streets of the town (1814). The anonymous poem—subversive even in being an incunable of the surfacing Western Lombard dialect as a literary language— was first attributed to the celebrated Carlo Porta, but Grossi of his own accord acknowledged himself the author.
In 1816, he published other two poems, written likewise in Milanese—La Pioggia d'oro (The Shower of Gold) and La Fuggitiva (The Fugitive). These compositions secured him the friendship of Porta and Manzoni, and the three poets came to form a sort of literary triumvirate of Romanticism in Lombardy. Grossi took advantage of the popularity of his Milanese poems to try Italian verse, into which he sought to introduce the moving realism which had given such satisfaction in his earliest compositions; and in this he was entirely successful with his poem Il degonda (1814).
He next wrote an epic poem, entitled The Lombards in the First Crusade, a work of which Manzoni makes honorable mention in I Promessi Sposi. This composition, which was published by subscription (1826), attained a success unequalled by that of any other Italian poem within the century; it provided the subject for Giuseppe Verdi's success of 1843, I Lombardi alla prima crociata, premiered in Milan at La Scala.
The example of Manzoni induced Grossi to write an historical novel entitled Marco Visconti (1834), a work which contains passages of true description and deep pathos. A little later Grossi published a tale in verse, Ulrico e Lida, but with this publication his poetical activity ceased.
In 1834, he helped organise the "Salotto Maffei," the liberal and patriotic literary salon in Milan hosted by Clara Maffei; there Verdi made his acquaintance. After his marriage in 1838 he continued to employ himself as a notary in Milan till his death.
- Ignazio Cantù: Vita de opere di Tommaso Grossi. Milano, 1853.
- Raffaele Sirri Rubes: Opere poetiche. Tommaso Grossi. Napoli: Rossi, 1972.
- Marco Visconti: Tommaso Grossi. Milano: Arcipelago Ed., 1994. (Letteratura italiana 17). ISBN 88-7695-113-X
- Aurelio Sargenti (Hrsg.): Carteggio 1816 - 1853. Tommaso Grossi. Milano: Centro Nazionale Studi Manzoniani [u.a.], 2005. ISBN 88-87924-87-2
- This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Grossi, Tommaso". Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. This work in turn cites:
- a life by Ignazio Cantù (Milan, 1853)