Tags: Universities, Librarians, Law, Literatur, Italy, place: Manduria
Literary scholar and politician Giacomo [James] Lacaita was born at Manduria in the province of Lecce on 4 October 1813. He took a law degree at the University of Naples and was admitted an advocate in 1836. His knowledge of English gained him the post of legal adviser to the British legation at Naples and the friendship of William Temple who was stationed there. In November 1850 he met Gladstone, who was in Naples for family reasons, but also sought information about Bourbon misrule. This meeting led to the arrest of Lacaita on 3 January 1851, and he remained in custody for nine days. Lacaita’s friendship with Gladstone established the respectability of the Risorgimentists in Britain. Lacaita left Naples for London in January 1852. From November 1853 until April 1856 he was Professor of Italian at London’s Queen’s College, Strand, and published Selections from the Best Italian Writers (1855). Living at no. 27 Duke Street, St James’s, Westminster, he was naturalised in July 1855. In December 1860, after the expulsion of the Bourbons, he revisited Naples and was returned as deputy to the first Italian legislature. For the rest of his life he spent part of his time in Italy and part in England. He wrote nearly all the Italian articles for the eighth edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica, and revised several editions of Murray’s Handbook for South Italy. In 1865 he edited the third volume of the great edition of the Inferno di Dante. He also compiled the Catalogue of the Library at Chatsworth (1879). Lacaita died at Posilipo, near Naples, in January 1895.