A prolific Italian playwright and novelist, he is known for works such as Little Old World (1901) and The Poet Mystery (1888). He is associated with the Scapigliatura artistic movement.
He studied law in Turin before beginning his writing career. He published his first novel, Malombra, in 1881.
He was a devout Catholic and sought to reconcile his Christian beliefs with the evolutionary theory of Charles Darwin.
He was born into a wealthy family in Vicenza, Italy.
He attended law school in Turin, the birthplace of Carla Bruni.