Born in Sicily, Pirandello attended the universities of Palermo, Rome, and Bonn. He obtained his doctorate in philology with a thesis on the dialect of his native town, Agrigento before settling in Rome to teach and write. In 1894, he married a Sicilian girl, Antonietta Portulano, who bore him three children before she went mad and afterwards provided the inspiration for many of his stories and plays. In all, Pirandello wrote 6 novels, some 250 short stories, and about 50 plays. It was a novel, Il fu Mattia Pascal (1904), that first brought him fame. Only in 1920, when he was past 50, did he turn seriously to playwriting. His first stage success had been a comedy, Liola (1917), written in the Agrigento dialect. It took its theme, if not its mood, from the Mandragola of Machiavelli (see Vols. 3 and 4). In 1921, Pirandello presented his most famous play Six Characters in Search of an Author. Here he seeks to confuse his spectators, who are forced into a paradox of reality and illusion when six "characters" search out the actors of a theatrical troupe to play out their inexorable story. The play exemplifies the Pirandellian conflict between art, which is unchanging and constant, and life, which is a continuous succession of mutations. Pirandello deliberately destroyed the traditional boundaries between audience and spectacle, reflecting the relativity and subjectivity of human existence. The play's unconventional format, which resulted in a riot, established Pirandello as Europe's leading avant-garde dramatist. The main body of Pirandello's plays falls into three overlapping categories, the first exploring the nature of the theater, the second the complexities of personality in the etymological or dramatic sense of the term, and the third rising to dramatic representation of the categorical imperatives of social, religious, and artistic community. Besides the world-famous Six Characters in Search of an Author (1918), his best plays in the three categories include Each in His Own Way (1924), It Is So (If You Think So) (1917), Henry IV (1922), The New Colony (1925), Lazarus, As You Desire Me (1930), and The Mountain Giants (1937), written after he had been awarded the Nobel Prize and left incomplete. Pirandello is the forerunner of much modern theater and literature; among the figures who owe their roots to the innovations of Pirandello are Bertolt Brecht, Jean Genet, Jean-Paul Sartre, and Samuel Beckett (see Vol. 1).