These Barbed Wire Barriers: Antonio Gramsci and the Schucht Sisters by Jenifer Nicholson

BSA Auto/Biography Study Group Monograph Launch

4 February 2021 (17:00-18:00)

About the Event

Auto/Biography Study Group Monograph Launch: These Barbed Wire Barriers: Antonio Gramsci and the Schucht Sisters by Jenifer Nicholson. Introduced by Andrew Sparkes


Jenifer Nicholson has used archival material and Italian texts to reveal the lives and thoughts of the Schucht sisters. They were Eugenia, who loved and was rejected by Gramsci; Giulia who married him, and Tatiana, his loyal friend. All three were important to Antonio, Eugenia and Giulia politically as well as personally, and Tatiana who helped him to survive long enough to produce his masterpiece, The Prison Notebooks, and then spirited them out of prison Yet these women remain peripheral in accounts of Gramsci’s life.

Examination of Tatiana's letters (published in Italy), both to Gramsci and to her family in Russia, provided Gramsci with support and vital information about Giulia's predicament in Russia. Giulia's letters and draft letters which remain largely unpublished reveal her as stronger, more loving and vital than the way she is usually depicted. She was as badly affected as Gramsci was by illness and oppressed by surveillance both private and political.

The study gives these women form, substance and a voice and also shows a Gramsci who, under the stress of pain, anger and frustration, could be cruel, stubborn and deaf to advice. It highlights the tragedy of two people who, forced apart by political forces are further separated by misunderstanding, patronising, and selfish concerns, as well as misplaced loving interference.


Registration for this event is OPEN. It is a free event but registration is required. People who register for the event will be sent a copy of the paper and Zoom joining instructions approximately one week in advance.  We hope you can join us.

Dates for your Diary

The seminar/reading group dates are as follows:

• Thursday, 4 March 2021 at 17:00-18:00
• Thursday, 6 May 2021 at 17:00-18:00

We will be in touch a week before, with details and joining instructions, and guidance on how to use Zoom if this is new for you.