She was born in London, the daughter of Luigi Conti, a singer, and his wife Emily Mary Castle. The family then moved to Brighton, and Luigi Conti died in 1884. Italia was educated in Haywards Heath and at Kensington Academy.
The academy was founded in London in 1911 when Charles Hawtrey asked Italia Conti to train some children, to act in Where the Rainbow Ends. In 1925 it moved to Lamb's Conduit Street. Bombing in May 1940 destroyed the building, and Italia faced a serious financial loss. The school revived, however, at the Tavistock Little Theatre in Bloomsbury.
- McConnell, Anita. "Conti, Italia Emily Stella". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/62121. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
- Cathy Hartley (15 April 2013). A Historical Dictionary of British Women. Routledge. p. 236. ISBN 978-1-135-35534-0.