Fiorella Cagnoni was born in Milan in 1947. She studied philosophy at the university and was an active member both of the feminist movement and of the political organizations Tribuna Rossa and then of Lotta Continua. She also took part in the student revolutionary movements in 1968. She worked for years (until 2001) in her family business, a traditional well-known toy-shop in Milan while constantly pursuing her passion for writing.

Fiorella Cagnoni Quattro Gatti Book Cover
​ Fiorella Cagnoni, 'Quattro Gatti' Book Cover ​

In 1973 she met members of the Collettivo di Via Cherubini, a feminist group constituted in Milan in 1972, whose main intent was to promote the so-called ‘self-consciousness practice’. In 1975 some of its members founded the Libreria delle Donne di Milano, another historical feminist group where Fiorella Cagnoni played an active role as a member. In the early 1990s she joined the Circolo della Rosa in Verona. She also works on the project Trust nel Nome della Donna and Le Sciare (a word that in the local dialect of Puglia means ‘the witches’): both initiatives were created to promote and support women’s creative work and association. Cagnoni has been in charge of ‘La Chiocciola’ since 2005, a series published by Le Zare Editrice, which publishes books by women authors at a very affordable price.

Fiorella Cagnoni is the author of five detective novels whose main character, Alice Carta, is a casual, undeclared, lesbian detective. She also published a volume of short stories Due Racconti (2006), an essay ‘Valle del Belice: Terremoto di Stato’ (1976), and several translations, among which La Lanterna Magica: Ombre, Immagini, Figure di Donne (1979).

Compiled by Stella Cantini


Valle del Belice: Terremoto di stato (Milano: Contemporanea Edizioni, 1976)

Questione di Tempo. Milano (La Tartaruga, 1985)

Incauto Acquisto. Milano (La Tartaruga, 1992)

Donne irritanti. Milano (Federico Motta, 1995 [Testo di Fiorella Cagnoni, foto di Paola Mattioli])

Arsenico (Milano: La Tartaruga, 2001)

Due racconti. Melendugno (Lecce: Zane Editrice, 2006)

Alice carta in Inghilterra. Melendugno (Lecce: Zane Editrice, 2007)

E vecchi merletti. Melendugno (Lecce: Zane Editrice, 2011)


De Salvo, Louise and Mitchell A. Leaska (eds): Adorata creatura: Le lettere di Vita Sackville-West a Virginia Woolf. Transl. Fiorella Cagnoni and Sylvie Coyaud (Milano: La Tartaruga, 2002 [1985])

von Wysocki, Gisela: La lanterna magica: Ombre, immagini, figure di donne. Transl. Fiorella Cagnoni and Maria Gregorio (Milano: La Tartaruga, 1979)


Mirna Cicioni: ‘Loyalties and Lesbianism in the Novels of Fiorella Cagnoni’. In: Mirna Cicioni and Nicoletta Di Ciolla, eds. Differences, Deceits and Desires. Murder and Mayhem in Italian Crime Fiction (Newark: University of Delaware Press, 2008, pp. 145-159)

Angela Donahoe: ‘Coming out of Feminism: the Progression of Fiorella Cagnoni’s Writing’. In: Fourth Biennial ACIS Conference - International Conference of Italian Studies (10-13 July, 2007) (Griffith University [abstract available in the conference programme])