Virgilia d'Andrea is a reminder of the passion that anarchism could (and should!) inspire. It is the ideal, the source of hope and beauty. Like Luigi Galleani she writes in emotive and powerful language - a far cry from the formulaic and cold prose that can be found in some areas of our movement. Anarchism is about life, about individual realisation, about infinite possibility…
Virgilia d'Andrea was born on the 11th of February, 1890 in Sulmona-Abruzzi (Italy). At an early age she became an orphan and was taken to a Catholic college when she was six years old. She was to stay there until she got her teacher's degree.
This period of her life may be of some interest to those who would like to know something of her psychological make-up. As far as I am concerned, without having many details of her life spent in the college, I can assume that in such an arid, superstitious atmosphere, lacking freedom and affection, her vivid intelligence could not be placated. Instead of adapting herself to the environment, she had been nurturing a rebellious spirit against the institution of a social order which condemned her and many others to grow up in such inhuman conditions. Even so, she was never overcome by desperation for she found a substitute for life in books and she developed a great passion for poetry, which was to remain with her to the end of her life.
As a teacher she met Armando Borghi and from then on she dedicated her life to anarchism. For her anarchism is not a dogma and neither is it a utopia. Or, to be specific, if there is an anarchist utopia, there is also an anarchist reality, and it is this anarchist reality that she is most concerned with communicating to us. A reality found in the aspirations of the human spirit, which is a constant struggle with the environment and convention for self determination and the realisation of freedom. She found it in the writings Homer, Aeschylus, in the mythological Prometheus who, as the son of Justice, lit the spark of thinking in man and put the great hope of liberation in his heart; and who, to assert himself, gave up the beatitude of divine life and rebelled against Jupiter. She found it in Euripides, Shakespeare, Cervantes, etc. a reality passing like a red thread through the works of many writers, painters, artists and litterati.
This reality was part of her life in her struggle against authoritarianism, and particularly against Fascism. Even after her opposition to Fascism had forced her to leave Italy, she was not defeated, but continued the struggle in Germany, Holland and France, where she lived from 1923 to 1928. Then she went to America where, in 1932, on the 11th of May, she died in New York, aged forty-three.
Her literary output is slender; it consists of: Tormento, a volume of poetry published in 1922 in Italy; L'Ora di Marmaldo, a collection of prose published in France in 1928; and Torce nella Notte, a collection of articles and treatises published in New York a few days before her death. There are also a lot of papers she gave, mainly in America, and a few unpublished articles, but as far as I know, none of her writings have been translated into English.
The following article (The Vanquished Who Do Not Die) is taken from the Italian anarchist paper, Umanita Nova. This article I later found to be part of a paper given in New York on the 20th of March, 1932.
From: Red & Black No. 1, 1964..
In KSL: Bulletin of the Kate Sharpley Library No. 14, March 1998