Originally from Porto Empedocle, Sicily, Camilleri, began studies at the Faculty of Literature in 1944, without concluding them, meanwhile publishing poems and short stories. From 1948 to 1950 Camilleri studied stage and film direction at the Silvio D’Amico Academy of Dramatic Arts, and began to take on work as a director and screenwriter, directing especially plays by Pirandello and Beckett. His most famous works, the Montalbano series show many pirandellian elements: for example, the wild olive tree that helps Montalbano think, is on stage in his late work “The giants of the mountain”
With RAI, Camilleri worked on several TV productions, such as Inspector Maigret with Gino Cervi. In 1977 he returned to the Academy of Dramatic Arts, holding the chair of Movie Direction, and occupying it for 20 years.
In 1978 Camilleri wrote his first novel Il Corso Delle Cose (“The Way Things Go”). This was followed by Un Filo di Fumo (“A Thread of Smoke”) in 1980. Neither of these works enjoyed any significant amount of popularity.
In 1992, after a long pause of 12 years, Camilleri once more took up novel writing. A new book, La Stagione della Caccia (“The Hunting Season”) turned out to be a best-seller.
In 1994 Camilleri published the first in a long series of novels: La forma dell’Acqua (The Shape of Water) featured the character of Inspector Montalbano, a fractious Sicilian detective in the police force of Vigàta, an imaginary Sicilian town. The series is written in Italian but with a substantial sprinkling of Sicilian phrases and grammar. The name Montalbano is an homage to the Spanish writer Manuel Vázquez Montalbán; the similarities between Montalban’s Pepe Carvalho and Camilleri’s fictional detective are remarkable. Both writers make great play of their protagonists’ gastronomic preferences.
In 1998 Camilleri won the Premio Fedele for Il Cane di Terracotta (“The Terracotta Dog) as well as the Nino Martoglio International Book Award. Il Cane di Terracotta and other books by Camilleri are published by Sellerio Editore. Camilleri now lives in Rome where he works as a TV and theatre director.