Giovannino Oliviero Giuseppe Guareschi (May 1, 1908 - July 22, 1968) was an Italian journalist, cartoonist and humorist whose most famous creation is the priest Don Camillo.
Giovannino Guareschi was born in Fontanelle di Roccabianca in the Province of Parma into a middle-class family. In 1926 his family went bankrupt and he could not continue his studies. After unsuccessful studies in the University of Parma and various minor jobs, he started to write for a local newspaper. In 1929 he became editor of the satirical magazine Corriere Emiliano and from 1936 to 1943 he was the chief editor of a similar magazine called Bertoldo.
In 1943 he was drafted into the army, which apparently helped him to avoid trouble with the fascist authorities. He ended up as an artillery officer.
When Italy signed the armistice with Allied troops in 1943, he was arrested and imprisoned in prison camps in German occupied Poland for three years alongside other Italian soldiers. He later wrote about this time in Diario Clandestino (My secret Diary).
After the war, Guareschi returned to Italy and founded a monarchist satirical magazine, Candido. After Italy became a republic, he began to support Democrazia Cristiana. He criticized and satirized the Communists in his magazine, famously drawing a Communist as a man with an extra nostril. When the Communists were soundly defeated in the 1948 Italian elections, Guareschi did not put his pen down but criticized Democrazia Cristiana as well.
In 1954 Guareschi was charged with libel after he had published two facsimile wartime letters from resistance leader and former Prime Minister Alcide De Gasperi requesting the Allies to bomb the outskirts of Rome in order to demoralize German collaborators. The legitimacy of the letters was never established by the court but after a two month trial it found in favour of De Gasperi. Guareschi declined to appeal the verdict and spent 409 days in Parma's San Francesco jail, and another six months on probation at his home.
By 1956 his health had deteriorated and he began to spend time in Switzerland for health reasons. In 1957 he retired from the post of editor of Candido but remained a contributor. In 1968 he suffered a fatal heart attack.