Antonio Gramsci was born on Sardinia to parents of Albanian origin.
When he was seven his father was imprisoned for embezzlement. This placed great financial strain on the family and Gramsci had to take part time work until 1904 when his father was finally released.
Gramsci then completed High School and won a scholarship to the University of Turin where he studied linguistics and literature. However illness and poverty again mean he was unable to complete his studies.
In 1914 he started writing for socialist papers as a means of supporting himself. Indeed he would combine journalism and political activism for the next ten years, focusing in particular on organising factory workers in the industrial heartland of Turin.
Gramsci had joined the PSI (the Italian socialists) in 1913. Then in 1919 he helped found the weekly 'L'Ordine Nuovo'. The paper was seen by Lenin as being close to Bolshevism and in 1921 the editorial group -including Gramsci- formed the core of the new PCI (Italian Communist Party).
Gramsci was elected to Parliament as representative for the Veneto region in 1924. Vehemently anti-Mussolini, he was arrested by the Fascist Government in 1926 under the Emergency Powers Act (and despite apparent parliamentary immunity!).
The prosecutor at his trial said it was imperative to 'stop Gramsci's brain from functioning'. Despite this whilst in prison Gramsci wrote 3000 pages of notes that contributed greatly to the development of Marxist thought.
Gramsci died in prison half way through his 20 year sentence. He was only 46.
*Wakefield Socialist History group are holding an event, "THE POLITICS OF ANTONIO GRAMCI", at the Red Shed, Vicarage Street, Wakefield WF1 on Saturday 3 December, 1-4pm. If you would like to speak at the event please get in touch.
Convenor, Wakefield Socialist History Group