The Italian Almanac

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Salgari's stamp

A New Stamp

Emilio Salgari, creator of Italy's most famous literary pirate Sandokan, is to be recognised on the centenary of his death with a special stamp from the Italian post office. The 60-cent stamp will be issued in Turin on April 23, 100 years from the day in 1911 when the novelist committed suicide in the Piedmont countryside.

Two seagulls fly across a portrait of Salgari to symbolise his love of travel, even though he never visited the far-flung places where his novels are set. An old sailboat is also featured, a symbol of the sea adventures and exotic lands that fill his cycles of novels.

Born in Verona in 1862, Salgari moved to Piedmont towards the end of the 19th century. He wrote about 80 books and the appeal of his characters, ranging from Sandokan to the Black Corsair, grew after his death and has never died. Salgari's books have been increasingly big earners since the early 20th century, although he never managed to make a decent living out of them during his lifetime.

Sandokan was the subject of a hugely popular Italian TV show in the 1970s, which still has reruns today. The Salgari series told the adventures of a courageous Indian pirate fighting for his birthright against British colonial rule. The Indian actor who played Sandokan, Kabir Bedi, was knighted by Italy in December.