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About Italian Women Writers


The Italian Women Writers project (IWW) is a long-term research endeavor to preserve and provide access to an extensive corpus of literature written by Italian women authors. Our goal is to bring information on and texts by both famous and previously neglected Italian women writers to a wider audience of students, scholars, teachers, and the general public, and to preserve these often fragile texts for generations to come.


IWW includes authors from the 13th century up to authors born in 1945. The following types of works are included: anthologies, articles and essays, autobiographies, biographies, children's literature, devotional works, dialogues, diaries, dramas, epics, hagiographies, histories and chronicles, interviews and conversations, letters, memoirs, novels, operas, poems, reviews, short stories, and travel literature.

Selection Criteria

The project has three distinct yet interrelated components: An Author Index compiled from biographic information with links to Biographies and Portraits; an Editions Index, which serves as an online bibliography; and a Full-Text Index, through which one can retrieve or search the full-text of authors' works.

The Author Index includes female authors born at the end of the 12th century through 1945. In some cases, when an author's year of birth has not been forthcoming, we must make assumptions. Accordingly, authors who have started publishing by the 1960s have been included. In general, we have selected authors of literary works; however, the selection criteria for Medieval and Renaissance authors are considerably broader.

The Editions Index includes full bibliographic records of first editions, scholarly editions, editions with significant commentary, and known English translations.

The Full-Text Index has been the slowest to bring to completion since it is the most labor-intensive, requires considerable funding, and entails a certain amount of rights negotiation. With the assistance of the Editorial Board, the best edition available of each title is selected for digitization.

For those who may want to link to information on authors or to digitized texts, please use the

IWW handles provided.

Editorial Policy

We strive to represent texts as they appear in the original. This means reproducing all textual apparati, front matter, back matter, illustrations, and the like. When prefaces, introductions, and commentary are extensive, we have chosen to link to this text and not index it. We hope to keep the voice of the database as true to its title as possible. Pagination from original editions is kept as are most typographical conventions. If, for example, all accents in a text are presented as grave accents, we keep the text as is, not converting them to acute accents (i. e., expect to find both perché and perchè).

Bibliography of Sources Frequently Consulted


IWW combines two very powerful programs in its implementation. For the indexes, we use MySQL, an open source database server. For full-text searching, we use a local product called PhiloLogic. PhiloLogic is a suite of software, developed by the ARTFL Project at the University of Chicago in collaboration with the University of Chicago Library, which provides sophisticated searching of a wide variety of large encoded databases on the World Wide Web. It is an easy to use, yet powerful, full-text search, retrieval, and reporting system for large multimedia databases (texts, images, sound) with the ability to handle complex text structures with extensive indexed metadata.

Future Development

The Italian Women Writers Project is actively seeking financial support to fund the digitization and preservation of these unique texts, many of which are currently inaccessible to the research community at large or in brittle condition and at risk of permanently disappearing. If you are aware of funding opportunites, please contact Catherine Mardikes at

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