Umberto Eco was an Italian semiotician, essayist, philosopher, literary critic, and novelist. He is best known for his groundbreaking 1980 novel Il nome della rosa (The Name of the Rose), an intellectual mystery combining semiotics in fiction, biblical analysis, medieval studies and literary theory. He had written further novels, including Il pendolo di Foucault (Foucault's Pendulum) and L'isola del giorno prima (The Island of the Day Before). His most recent novel Il cimitero di Praga (The Prague Cemetery), released in 2010, was a best-seller.
Eco had also written academic texts, children's books and many essays. He was founder of the Dipartimento di Comunicazione at the University of San Marino, President of the Scuola Superiore di Studi Umanistici, University of Bologna, member of the Accademia dei Lincei (since November 2010) and an Honorary Fellow of Kellogg College, University of Oxford.
Eco died at his Milanese home of pancreatic cancer, from which he had been suffering for two years, on the night of February 19, 2016. At the time of his death at the age of 84, he was a professor emeritus at the University of Bologna, a position that he had held since 2008.