Born at Modica, Sicily; moved to Messina, where he studied engineering at the Technical Institute. Resident in Rome from 1919-26, where he studied at the Polytechnic and began to read the Greek and Roman lyric poets. Employed by the Ministry of Public Works in Reggio Calabria from 1926-9. Resident in Florence after 1929, where he met the novelist Elio Vittorini. Briefly visited Sardinia in 1934. Lived in Milan from 1934 onwards; left government service in 1938 and thereafter worked as an editorial secretary. His muchpraised translations of Greek lyrics into Italian appeared in 1940. A professor of Italian Literature in Milan from 1941. Imprisoned by the authorities for anti-Fascist activities during the Second World War. Suffered his first heart attack whilst visiting Russia; in hospital in Moscow for a considerable period. Visited Stockholm to receive the Nobel Prize for 1959. Honorary Doctor of Letters degree from Messina in 1960 and from Oxford in 1967. Travelled very widely throughout Europe after the award of the Nobel Prize. Died in Sicily after a succession of heart attacks.
Quasimodo was made internationally famous by the award of the 1959 Nobel Prize for Literature, the first Italian poet for fifty years to be thus honoured. Both inside and outside Italy, however, it was felt that Ungaretti (who was never to receive it) and Montale (the Nobel Laureate of 1975) had prior claims. The terms of the Nobel citation -- 'poetry which . . . expresses the tragic experience of life in our time' -- were interpreted as referring primarily to Quasimodo's attempt,