Sorrento’s famous American resident, the writer Francis Marion Crawford, was born on this date in 1854 in Bagni di Lucca in Tuscany.
A prolific novelist, Crawford became known for the vividness of his characterisations and the realism of his settings, many of which were places he had visited in Italy.
He chose to settle in later life in Sant’Agnello, just outside Sorrento, where he even had a street named after him, Corso Marion Crawford.
|Villa Crawford from the sea|
Crawford was the only son of the American sculptor, Thomas Crawford. He spent his childhood going backwards and forwards between Italy and America and studied at various American and European Universities.
He spent some time in India, where he found the inspiration for his first successful novel, Mr Isaacs, which was published in 1882.
In 1883 he returned to Italy to settle there permanently. He lived at the Hotel Cocumella in Sant’Agnello to begin with. He then bought a farmhouse nearby, from which he developed the Villa Crawford, an impressive clifftop residence easily identifiable from the sea.
|Hotel Cocumella at Sant'Agnello|
Crawford found inspiration for his writing while living in Sorrento and many of his later novels have Italian settings, such as Don Orsino, published in 1892, which is about the effects of social change on an Italian family.
His novels sold well in America and he would often visit the country to deliver lectures on Italian history, about which he wrote several books.
Crawford died at the Villa Crawford in Sant’Agnello after suffering a heart attack in 1909.
The Corso Marion Crawford leads down to the sea from Corso Italia, the main road connecting Sant’Agnello with the resort of Sorrento.
The historic Hotel Cocumella, where Crawford stayed during the 1880s, is in Via Cocumella, just off Corso Marion Crawford.