Deledda was born in Nuoro, Sardinia, in a bourgeois family. Her father was a a landowner, whose many acquaintances Deledda later used as characters for her novels. After completing local elementary school, she was educated privately.
Deledda's writing career was precocious. Her private teacher encouraged her to write stories based on certain themes, and subsequently encouraged her to publish them. At the age of 13, she pubished her first story in a fashion magazine, L'ultima moda. Her first novel followed soon after: Fior di Sardegna (1892) [Flower of Sardinia], which she sent to an editor in Rome. Her first real success was Elias Portolú (1903), which was first translated by the Revue des deux mondes, and then into all of the European languages.
In 1900, after having married Palmiro Madesani, a functionary of the Ministry of War, the writer moved to Rome and after the publishing of Anime oneste in 1895 and of Il vecchio della montagna in 1900, plus the collaboration with magazines La Sardegna, Piccola rivista and Nuova Antologia, her work began to gain critical interest. In 1903 she published Elias Portolu that confirmed her as a writer and started her work as a successful writer of novels and theatrical works.
Her style has been described as between prose and poetry. Deledda combined the imaginary and the autobiographical; this blend is readily apparent in her novel, Il paese del vento (1931) [Land of the Wind]. In another novel, L'argine (1934) [The Barrier], the renunciation of worldly things, including love, mirrors the life of the author who, accepting self-sacrifice as a higher manner of living, is reconciled with God. The common trait of all her later writings is a constant faith in mankind and in God.
- Anime oneste, romanzo famigliare (1895) [Honest Souls], with preface by Ruggero Bonghi
- Il vecchio della montagna (1900) [The Old Man of the Mountain] followed by a dramatic sketch Odio vince(1904) [HateWins]
- Elias Portolú (1903)
- Cenere (1904) [Ashes]; Nostalgie (1905)
- La via del male (1896) [The Evil Way]
- Naufraghi in porto [originally Dopo il divorzio, 1902] (1920) [After the Divorce]
- L'edera (1908) [The Ivy]
- Il nostro padrone (1910) [Our Master]
- Sino al confine (1910) [Up to the Limit]
- Nel deserto (1911) [In the Desertl
- Colombi e sparvieri (1912) [Doves and Falcons]
- Canne al vento (1913) [Canes in the Wind]
- Le colpe altrui (1914) [The Others' Faults]
- Marianna Sirca (1915)
- L'incendio nell'oliveto (1918) [The Fire in the Olive Grove]
- La Madre (1920) [The Mother]; Il segreto dell'uomo solitario (1921) [The Secret of the Solitary Man]
- Il Dio dei viventi (1922) [The God of the Living]
- La danza della collana (1924) [The Dance of the Necklace], followed by the dramatic sketch
- A sinistra (1924) [To the Left]
- La fuga in Egitto (1925) [The Flight into Egypt]
- Annalena Bilsini (1927).
Short Stories: «Il giuochi della vita» (1905) [The Gambles in Life]; «Chiaroscuro» (1912) [Light and Dark]; «Il fanciullo nascosto» (1915) [The Hidden Boy]; «Il ritorno del figlio» (1919) [The Son's Return]; «La bambina rubata» (1919) [The Stolen Child]; «Cattive com pagnie» (1921) [Evil Company]; «Il flauto nel bosco» (1923) [The Flute in the Wood]; «Il sigillo d'amore» (1926) [The Seal of Love].
L'edera (1912) [The Ivy], a play in three acts, with the collaboration of Camillo Antona-Traversi.