Montale was the last of six children of a businessman from Genoa. He was drafted for military service in 1917 and witnessed the last year of the war at the front in South Tyrol. After the war he lived in Genoa and became interested in literature. He learned writers and critics know and was co-founder in 1922 of the journal Primo tempo.
The publication of his first book of poetry Ossi di seppia made him in 1925 as writers. Two years later he moved to Florence, where he headed the well-known library Gabinetto Vieusseux. He lost this position in 1938 due to his refusal to join the fascist party. 1939 Montale published his second volume of poetry Le occasioni. He worked for newspapers in Florence and from 1948 in Milan for the Corriere della Sera. In 1962 he was awarded the international Antonio Feltrinelli Prize. His third book of poems La bufera e altro appeared 1956. 1971 came the poetry book Satura out, had already been published in parts. In his poems often the landscapes of Liguria are described.
Montale was an honorary doctorate from the University La Sapienza, Rome, Milan University and the University of Cambridge.