Simonetta Agnello Hornby is an Italian novelist and English lawyer, and has spent most of her life in the UK. Starting from personal experience, Agnello Hornby will reflect on developments in Italian society and law with a special focus on women. She will then discuss the readership of Italian literature, with a special reference to female authorship and the publishing world, which seems to select primarily male authors in translation. Counter-examples to this trend are represented by figures such as Elvira Sellerio, the publisher of Andrea Camilleri’s Montalbano, whose influential work will be highlighted during the talk.
Join us in welcoming Simonetta Agnello Hornby to deliver the 2019 Lucrezia Zaina Bequest Lecture. The lecture will be followed by an Italian themed reception for all.
Born and raised in Palermo, Sicily, Simonetta Agnello Hornby graduated in law and has lived in London since 1972. She is both an Italian and a British citizen. In 1979, she set up Hornby and Levy, a law practice which specializes in all aspects of family law, based in Brixton, an area of London rich in immigration and cultural exchange. In 1997 Hornby and Levy published Caribbean Children’s Law Project, a seminal book on the law relating to children in Barbados, Jamaica, Guyana and Trinidad & Tobago. It remains a salient and unique work. Agnello Hornby was a part-time lecturer in Child Care Law at the University of Leicester and for eight years part-time president of the Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal.
La Mennulara (The Almond Picker), Simonetta Agnello Hornby’s first novel, was published by Feltrinelli in 2002 and has subsequently been translated into numerous languages worldwide; it was recipient of the Alassio 100 libri prize, the Forte Village Literary prize, the Stresa prize for fiction and the Premio Novela Europea Casino de Santiago. With Feltrinelli Agnello Hornby has also published La zia marchesa (2004), Boccamurata (2007), Vento scomposto (2009), La monaca (2010), La cucina del buon gusto (with Maria Rosario Lazzati, 2012), Il veleno dell’oleandro (2013), Il male che si deve raccontare (with Marina Calloni, 2013), Via XX Settembre (2013) Caffe amaro (2016), and, with Massimo Fenati, the graphic novel of La Mennulara (2018). She has also published Camera oscura (Skira, 2010), Un filo d’olio (Sellerio, 2011), La pecora di Pasqua (with Chiara Agnello, Slow Food, 2012), La mia Londra and Il pranzo di Mose (both Giunti, 2014), and the children's book Rosie e gli scoiattoli di St. James (with George Hornby, Giunti, 2018).
Her books have been bestsellers and have sold more than a million copies in Italy. She is a frequent guest on radio and television in Italy and is often published in the major Italian newspapers. Simonetta Agnello Hornby has always tried to link her professional work as a lawyer and writer to support causes relating to those on the margins of society.
In June 2016 Simonetta Agnello Hornby received the award of Grand’Ufficiale dell’Ordine della Stella d’Italia.
Italian has been taught at this university since 1881 and today Italian Studies is housed within the Department of Modern Languages and Cultures (MLC). We are a small and friendly community of academic and teaching staff whose research and teaching interests cover contemporary fiction, linguistics, film and cultural studies.
The lecture is funded by a generous legacy bequest from Lucrezia Zaina, known as Lexie, who was a lecturer in French and Italian at the University from 1964 until 1988. Legacy gifts are a significant source of donations to the University and benefit the institution long into the future, funding ground-breaking research, scholarships and bursaries and improving facilities for students.