Silvester Mazzarella

Silvester is a literary translator and biographer.

Literary Tranlsator and Biographer, born 1936: English mother and Italian father. In the early 1920s my mother read English at St Anne’s (then ‘Oxford Home Students’). When I became an undergraduate at the Hall we visited the Chapel together, and she told me she used to go to the Hall for tutorials with Hall’s pioneer English don Ronald Fletcher (1890-1950), since commemorated in the Antechapel floor; apparently he asked her to marry him (see my articles in SEH Magazine 2000-2001 pp 162-3, and 2002-2003 pp 72-4).

I matriculated in 1956 and followed my mother in reading English at the Hall, scraping a Second in 1959. As a lecturer in the English Department at Helsinki University, Finland and reviewer of British books for a leading Finnish newspaper (1965-88), I took a special interest in Finland’s second language, Swedish. Back in England from 1988, I read Italian at the University of Kent in Canterbury, taking a First in Italian there in 1995, It was only after 2000 that I started translating books into English, first from Swedish and later from Italian.

By then I had also researched and virtually completed writing a biography of my mother’s uncle Filson Young (1876-1938), a once well-known and controversial miscellaneous writer (novelist, war correspondent, editor, BBC radio pioneer, essayist and much more). This book has yet to find a publisher, but my full text can be read on the internet (Google “Filson Young Silvester Mazzarella”).

Translations from Swedish to English, with dates of English publication:


Boel Westin: Tove Jansson, Life, Art, Words: The Authorised Biography (Sort of Books, 2014)
Edith Södergran (letters): The Poet Who Created Herself (Norvik Press, 2001)

Novels and Stories

Eva-Marie Liffner: Imago (Harvill Press, 2005) [short-listed for the Oxford Weidenfeld Translation Prize]
Bengt Ohlsson: Gregorius (Portobello Books, 2007; with a preface by Margaret Atwood) [short-listed for the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize]
Tove Jansson: The Woman Who Borrowed Memories (New York Review of Books, 2014)

Translations from Italian to English, with dates of English publication:


Marcello Fois:
The “Sardinia Trilogy”, comprising
Bloodlines (MacLehose Press, 2014) [long-listed for the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize]
The Time In Between (MacLehose Press, 2018)
Perfect Light (MacLehose Press, 2020)

Michela Murgia: Accabadora (MacLehose Press, 2011)
Davide Longo: The Last Man Standing (MacLehose Press, 2012)
Davide Longo: Bramard’s Case (MacLehose Press, 2015)
Davide Longo: Young Beasts At Play (MacLehose Press, forthcoming)
Dacia Maraini: Train to Budapest (Arcadia Books, 2010)
Francesca Petrizzo: Memoirs of a Bitch; Helen of Troy Tells Her Own Story (Quercus, 2011)