Gozzi was born and died in Venice; he came from an family of minor Venetian aristocracy, the Tiepolos. At a young age, his parents were no longer able to support him financially, so he joined the army in Dalmatia. Three years later, he had returned to Venice and joined the Granelleschi Society. This society was dedicated to the pursuit of preservation of Tuscan literature from the influence of foreign culture; it was particularly interested in saving traditional Italian comedy such as Commedia dell'Arte.
Pietro Chiari and Carlo Goldoni, two Venetian writers, were moving away from the old style of Italian theatre, which threatened the work of the Granelleschi Society. In 1757 Gozzi defended Commedia dell'Arte by publishing a satirical poem, La tartana degli influssi per l'anno 1756, and in 1761 his comedy based on a fairy tale, The Love for Three Oranges or Analisi riflessiva della fiaba L'amore delle tre melarance, he parodied Chiari and Goldoni. To perform his play, he obtained the services of the Sacchi company of players, a Commedia dell'Arte troupe who had been out of work do to the dwindling interest in Commedia dell'Arte after Chiari and Goldoni's efforts. Their satirical powers thus sharpened by personal vendetta, the play was an extraordinary success, and Gozzi donated his play and the rest of his fairy tales to Sacchi's troupe, which in effect saved the company. While some have called Gozzi the savior of Commedia dell'Arte there has been much debate due to the fact that Gozzi wrote out all his scripts and traditional Commedia dell'Arte is mainly improvised.
Struck by the effect produced on the audience by the introduction of the supernatural or mythical element, which he had merely used as a convenient medium for his satirical purposes, Gozzi produced a series of dramatic pieces based on fairy tales. These were hugely popular, but after Sacchi's company disbanded, they were unjustly neglected. Gozzi's fairy tales drew influence from Commedia dell'Arte, and the popularity of them caused a revival of Commedia dell'Arte in Italy. These fairy tales received much praised by Goethe, Schlegel brothers, Hoffmann, Madame de Staël, Sismondi and Ostrovsky; one of these plays, Turandot or La Turandotte, was translated by Friedrich Schiller and staged by Goethe in Weimar in 1802 with great acclaim. Gozzi was acclaimed throughout most of Europe, but was less esteemed in his own country.
In the last years of Gozzi's life he had begun to experiment by producing tragedies with largely comical influences, but these endeavors were met with harsh critical response. He then began to work in Spanish drama, and found minor success before his death. He was buried in the church of San Cassiano in Venice.
He is well known for his feuds with Carlo Goldini and Pietro Chiari between 1756-1762 over the changing style of Italian theatre that was moving away from the masked and improvised styling of Commedia dell'Arte.
He was the titular protector of Teodora Ricci, and caused the voluntary exile of Pier Antonio Gratarol, a member of Venetian society whom Gozzi's Draghe d'Amore was partially based on, for having an affair with and ruining the reputation of Ricci.
His brother, Gasparo Gozzi, was also a well-known writer of the time.
His collected works were published under his own superintendence at Venice in 1792, in 10 volumes.
A number of twentieth-century stage works were inspired by Gozzi's plays. These include treatments of Turandot by Karl Vollmöller and Bertolt Brecht, operas based on the same story by Busoni, and, more famously, Puccini, Prokofiev's The Love of Three Oranges and Hans Werner Henze's König Hirsch.
- Fiabe Teatrali — "Tales for the Theatre"
- L'amore delle Tre Melarance — "The Love of Three Oranges" (1761)
- Il Corvo — "The Raven" (1761)
- Il Re Cervo — "The Stag King" (1762)
- Turandot (1762)
- La Donna Serpente — "The Serpent Woman" (1762)
- La Zobeide — "Zobeide" (1763)
- I Pitocchi Fortunati — "The Fortunate Beggars" (1764)
- Il Mostro Turchino — "The Blue Monster" (1764)
- L'Augellino Bel Verde — "The Green Bird" (1765)
- Zeim, Re de'Geni — "Zeim, King of the Genies" (1765)
- Other plays
- Marfisa bizzarra (1766)
- The Elixir of Love (1775/1776)
- Il Cavaliere Amico; o sia, Il Trionfo dell'Amicizia — "The Knight; or, The Triumph of Friendship" (Tragicomedy in 5 Acts)
- Doride; o sia, La Rassegnata — "Doride; or, The Resigned" (Tragicomedy in 5 Acts)
- La Donna Vendicativa — "The Vengeful Woman" (Tragicomedy in 5 Acts)
- La Caduta di Donna Elvira, Regina di Navarra — "The Fall of Donna Elvira, Queen of Navarre" [Prologo Tragico].
- La Punizione nel Precipizio — "Punishment in the Precipice" (Tragicomedy in 3 Acts)
- Il Pubblico Secreto — "The Public Secret" (Comedy in 3 Acts)
- Le Due Notti Affannose; o sia, gl'Inganni della Immaginazione — "Two Frantic Nights; or, Illusions of Imagination" (Tragicomedy in 5 Acts)
- La Principessa Filosofa; o sia, Il Controveleno — "The Princess Philosopher; or, The Antidote" (Drama in 3 Acts)
- I Due Fratelli Nimici — "The Two Enemy Brothers" (Tragicomedy in 3 Acts)
- Eco e Narciso — "Echo and Narcissus" (Seriocomic Pastoral with Music in 3 Acts)
- Il Moro di Corpo Bianco; o sia, Lo Schiavo del Proprio Onore — "The Moor with White Body; or, The Slave of his own Honor" (Tragicomedy in 5 Acts)
- La Donna Contraria al Consiglio — "The Woman Against the Council" (Scenic Composition in 5 Acts)
- Cimene Pardo — "Cimene Pardo" (Tragedy in 5 Acts)
- Innamorata da Vero — "True Love" (Comedy in 3 Acts)
- Bianca Contessa di Melfi; o sia, Il Maritaggio per Vendetta — "Bianca, Countess of Malfi; or, the Maritaggio for Vendetta" (Tragedy in 5 Acts)
- Il Montanaro Don Giovanni Pasquale — "The Montanaro Don Giovanni Pasquale" (Moral Stage Action in 5 Acts)
- La Figlia dell'Aria; o sia, L'Innalzamento di Semiramide — "Daughter of the Air; or, The Rise of Semiramis" (Allegorical Tale in 3 Acts)
- Il Metafisico; o sia, L'Amore, e L'Amicizia alla Prova — "The Metaphysical; or, Love and Friendship Put to the Test" (Drama 3 Acts)
- Annibale, Duca di Atene — "Hannibal, Duke of Athens" (Verse Representation in 5 Acts)
- La Malia della Voce — "The Woman's(?) Voice" (Drama 5 Acts)
- Amore Assottiglia il Cervello — "Love Thins the Brain" (Comedy in 5 Acts)
- La Vedova del Malabar — "The Widow of Malabar" (Tragedy in 5 Acts)
- Ragionamento ingenuo, e storia sincera dell'origine delle mie dieci Fiabe teatrali — "Ingenuous Disquisition and Sincere History of My Ten Tales for the Theatre" (1772)
- Memorie Inutili — "Useless Memoirs" (1777, published 1797)
- DiGaetani, John Louis (2000). Carlo Gozzi: A Life in 18th Century Venetian Theatre, an Afterlife in Opera. McFarland & Company. p. 61.
- Patterson, David Josh, "A Tale of Two Carlos: An Examination of the Ongoing Battle Between the Marginalized and the Privileged as Exemplified by Carlo Goldoni and Carlo Gozzi During the 18th Century" (2011). All Graduate Theses and Dissertations. Paper 1006.
- Lees, D. Nevile (April 1914). "Carlo Gozzi and the Venetian Drama of the Eighteenth Century". Mask. 6.
- Buch, David J. (2009). Magic flutes and Enchanted Forests: The Supernatural in Eighteenth Century Musical Theatre. University of Chicago Press. p. 214.
- Gozzi, Carlo (1890). The memoirs of Count Carlo Gozzi. J.C. Nimmo. p. 187.
- Carlo Gozzi. Memoirs. 2 Vol., trans. John Addington Symonds (London: John C. Nimmo, 1890). 1:249.
- Merriam-Webster's Encyclopedia of Literature. Merriam-Webster, Inc. 1995. p. 483.
- Harrison De Puy, William (1908). The World-wide Encyclopedia and Gazetteer: Compiled and Revised to Date from the Leading Encyclopedias of the World. A Dictionary of Arts, Sciences and Literature, to which is Added Biographies of Living Subjects, One Hundred Colored Maps and Numerous Illustrations, Volume 4. Christian Herald. p. 2877.
- Gozzi, Carlo (1989). Five Tales for the Theatre. The Chicago University Press. p. 1.
- Gozzi, Carlo (1885). Le Fiable di Carlo Gozzi. Bologna: Nicola Zanichelli.
- The Memoirs of Count Carlo Gozzi at gutenberg.org
- This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "article name needed". Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.