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Marconi’s Early Life

A young man with a moustache, wearing a suit jacket, sits posed for a formal portrait, his left hand beneath his chin.

Portrait of Guglielmo Marconi

Guglielmo Marconi was born on April 25, 1874, in Bologna, Italy. He was the third child of Giuseppe Marconi and Annie Jamieson. Giuseppe was a rich Italian businessman. If his sons were to follow in his footsteps, they needed to be sophisticated men of culture. Giuseppe hired private tutors for his sons and encouraged them to partake in hobbies. Guglielmo learned to play the piano, write poetry, and sail boats. But he also had another interest: science.

Science had fascinated Guglielmo from a young age, especially the work of German physicist Heinrich Hertz. Hertz proved that radio waves exist and showed how to measure them. Looking to follow in Hertz’s footsteps, Guglielmo applied to the University of Bologna to study science. The university rejected his application, but that did not stop him. Instead, he created his own experiments.

A three-storey yellow mansion stands on a hilltop. Built into the hillside below is the entrance to a grey stone mausoleum. The words “Guglielmo Marconi” are engraved over the door.

Villa Griffone, Bologna, Italy

Guglielmo’s experiments were supported mainly by his mother. She loved her son dearly and wanted to help him in his work. She used her connections to get him into university lectures even though he was not formally enrolled.

Unfortunately, Guglielmo’s father thought differently. He wanted his sons to be businessmen, like himself. Giuseppe tried his best to convince his son to quit. He didn’t realize that Guglielmo’s work would make Marconi a household name.