Piero Sraffa was born in Turin on 5 August 1898, the only son of Angelo, a professor of commercial law, (from 1919 to 1926 the rector of Bocconi University), and of Irma Tivoli. He grew up in a family environment that, although rigorously secular, had deep Jewish roots. Due to his father's continuous relocations from one university location to another, he attended schools in different cities: elementary and middle school in Pisa, Camerino, and Parma. It was in Milan, however, at the Parini secondary school, that he began his higher schooling (and where Domenico Re, who brought him closer to the ideals of Socialism, was his Latin and Greek teacher), which he concluded in 1915 at the Massimo D'Azeglio secondary school in Turin, where Umberto Cosmo instructed him in Italian literature. Upon earning his secondary school diploma, he enrolled in the faculty of law. During the years 1917-20 he performed military service; after the War, he was assigned to the secretariat of the "Royal commission of inquiry into the violations of the right of the people committed by the enemy," which completed its proceedings with the printing of reports in seven volumes, between 1919 and 1921. In 1919, through Umberto Cosmo, he met Antonio Gramsci, thus entering into contact with the L'Ordine Nuovo group. In November 1920, he took his university degree with a thesis titled Inflazione monetaria in Italia durante e dopo la Guerra ("Monetary inflation in Italy during and after the War"); although his thesis advisor was formally Luigi Einaudi, the thesis only saw Einaudi's intervention when it had already been completed. In the early months of 1921, he had an internship with a Turinese bank branch. From June to August 1921, he journeyed to England, where he attended courses at the London School of Economics as a General Research Student, coming into contact with the economist John Maynard Keynes. During these months of his stay in England, he wrote three correspondences for L'Ordine Nuovo. Relocating to England for the 1921-1922 academic year, he was invited by Keynes to write a study on Italian banking problems since the War. The article, titled The bank crisis in Italy, was published by Economic Journal in June. After his return to Italy, in October 1922 he was appointed director of the provincial statistics office, thanks to the interest taken in him by Alessandro Molinari, who was then directing the labour statistics office of the Municipality of Milan; he resigned after the fall of the provincial council headed by Nino Levi, who had appointed him. On 7 December 1922, the study Italian banking today was published in The Manchester Guardian's Reconstruction in Europe supplement. The text triggered the resentment of both Banca Commerciale Italiana and of Mussolini himself, who wrote two telegrams to Sraffa's father demanding a retraction. Invited to England by Keynes, on 26 January 1923 he was stopped in Dover, perhaps at the request of the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs; reboarded to Calais as an undesirable alien, he spent several months in France. In 1923, he became professor of political economy and public economics at the faculty of law of the University of Perugia. On 27 June 1924, he met Gramsci in Rome. Thanks to Keynes's intervention, he was able to return to England in October 1924. In 1925, he won the competition for the chair in political economy at the University of Cagliari, where he remained in his position until the summer of 1927. In December 1925, he published in Giornale degli economisti a study titled Sulle relazioni fra costo e quantità prodotto ("On the relationships between product cost and quantity"). In December 1926, he opened for Gramsci, who had been exiled to Ustica, an unlimited account at the Sperling&Kupfer bookshop in Milan. Dating to that same month is the publication in The Economic Journal of his article The Laws of Returns under Competitive Conditions. During the first months of 1927, he had a meeting in Genoa with some members of the Communist Party of Italy (Partito Comunista d'Italia - PCdI), including Camilla Ravera, and he offered to aid Gramsci, agreeing with the Party as to the procedures. On 30 May 1927, he was offered the post of Lecturer in Economics at King's College in Cambridge for a four-year term beginning 1 October. In the month of August, with the permission of the examining judge Enrico Macis, he visited Gramsci at San Vittore prison. In spite of his commitments in England, he returned frequently to Italy. In October 1928, Milan, he met Tatiana Schucht for the first time, whom he was to see again in April, August, and September 1929. Starting February 1929 he made the acquaintance of Ludwig Wittgenstein, and until 1946 he would have weekly conversations with him, which would inspire his new orientations summarized in Ricerche filosofiche (1953). In August 1930, he undertook with Maurice Dobb a journey to the USSR, where he met the Schucht family and Gramsci's children Delio and Giuliano. Upon returning to England, he decided to resign from his teaching position. In December 1930, he returned once again to Italy. In January 1931, he went to Rome to meet with Tatiana. That same year, Keynes, to prevent his return to Italy, had him obtain the position of librarian at the Marshall Library of Economics. In August 1931, at Gramsci's urging, he re-established relations with Umberto Cosmo. Starting September 1932, he collaborated with Tania on writing the petitions to be submitted to Mussolini for Gramsci to be examined by a specialist. Following the amnesty and pardon decree of 5 November 1932, he took action for Gramsci to be granted conditional release. In February 1933, he engaged the services of the lawyer Saverio Castellett to submit Gramsci's petition for amnesty. In March 1933, at Gramsci's behest, he wrote several drafts of a request for a specialist examination by professor Uberto Arcangeli. Dating to this same period is the request for intervention made to his uncle Mariano D'Amelio, president of the Court of Cassation, for the more favourable application of Gramsci's amnesty decree. In 1935, he was appointed Director of Research at King's College. After Gramsci was granted conditional release, he paid several visits to Formia: on 2 January, 10 April, and 13 August 1935. The first meeting after Gramsci's transfer to Rome in 1935 dates to 31 August; it was followed by the one on 26 December 1935. On 26 June and 7 September 1936 he was again in Rome. He had his final meeting with Gramsci on 26 March 1937. In July that same year, he also met Tatiana, with whom he maintained a correspondence relationship until September 1938. In May 1940, following the British government's order to arrest all German and Italian nationals residing in England, he was interned on the Isle of Man. He was freed in late summer due to Keynes's direct intervention, and returned to Cambridge. During the War years, he continued preparing the scientific edition of the works of David Ricardo, begun in the 1930s and published in 1951. In 1954, he was named a Fellow of the British Academy. In 1960 he published his study Production of Commodities by Means of Commodities: Prelude to a Critique of Economic Theory. In Stockholm in 1961, he was awarded the Söderströmska Gold Medal by the Royal Swedish Academy of Science. In 1963, he was appointed Emeritus Reader in Economics at Trinity College. In 1967 he had a brief correspondence with Paolo Spriano on certain passages in Gramsci's biography. In July 1974, he met several times with Elsa Fubini, curator of Fondo Gramsci, to whom he delivered Gramsci's letters in his possession. He died in Cambridge on 3 September 1983.