Umberto Eco was an Italian novelist, essayist, literary critic, philosopher and semiotician. He is best known for his groundbreaking 1980 historical mystery 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 later wrote other novels, including Il pendolo di Foucault (Foucault's Pendulum) and L'isola del giorno prima (The Island of the Day Before). His novel Il cimitero di Praga (The Prague Cemetery), released in 2010, was a best-seller. Eco also wrote academic texts, children's books and essays. He was founder of the Dipartimento di Comunicazione (Department of Media Studies) at the University of the Republic of San Marino, President of the Scuola Superiore di Studi Umanistici (Graduate School for the Study of the Humanities), University of Bologna, member of the Accademia dei Lincei and an honorary fellow of Kellogg College, Oxford. Eco was born in the city of Alessandria, in Piedmont in northern Italy. Eco died this week at his Milanese home of pancreatic cancer, aged of 84.