Portugal - All About Writers  

Alexandre Herculano
Born in 1810 in Lisbon, and died in 1877. Besides being a writer of great note his life was a pattern of other pursuits. His strong liberal point of view placed him at severe odds with those in power most of his life. By the age of 21 years he was already forced into political exile in Plymouth, England, and later in Rennes, in France. He trained to become a professional soldier and fought in several battles. He applied his combat skills to everyday life, yet, his works were poetical in content and he was influential in introducing into Portuguese literature a romantic historical style of writing. During his lifetime he held many posts, from Director of Municipal Library of Porto to a Deputy in Parliament. Influenced by his political beliefs his many works unveiled a completely different view on many of the recorded past historical events in Portugal.

Alexandre O´Neil
Alexandre Manuel Vahia de Castro O´Neil de Bulhões was born in 1924 and died in 1986. A poet of sensitive extremes he was a strong influence in the Portuguese Surrealist Movement that was founded in the middle of the 1940s. His writings were complementary to his open strong personality, combining truthful force with ironic or sarcastic humour.

Bocage
Born in Setúbal in 1765 and died in 1805. He is considered to be the most important poet representing Portugal in the 18th Century. His works drew the attention of the Jesuits and their Inquisition who persecuted him for their content.

Eça de Queirós
José Maria Eça de Queirós was born in 1845 in Póvoa de Varzim and died in 1900. He graduated from the University of Coimbra as a Lawyer in 1866. For a short time he founded and was editor of the Journal de Distrito de Évora. In 1870 he was appointed the State Administrator of the Distrito de Leiria. He then was appointed Consul for Havana in Cuba in 1872. Two years later he made an official visit to the U.S.A. and then moved to live in Newcastle. It was only in 1876 that his first novel "O Crime de Padre Amaro" appeared. The success of this book followed with other novels, in particular the work "Maias" for which he was much acclaimed. He died in Paris on the 16th of August.

Fernando Pessoa
Fernando António Nogueira Pessoa is perhaps the writer that is best remembered by the Portuguese of modern times. Born in Lisbon in 1888 and died in 1935. At the death of his father at the tender age of five his family departed to live in Durban in South Africa. In 1904 he won a scholarship to attend Cape Town University. He returned to his native Portugal in 1905 to continue his studies in Lisbon. Later in 1915, he joined a group of prominent intellectuals to publish the famous Orpheu, magazine. Only three publications were produced but each had a tremendous impact on the culture of that time. All his poems were signed with alias, such as Ricardo Reis, Alberto Caeiro, Álvaro Campos and Bernardo Soares. The exception was the poem "Mensagem" that appeared in 1935 in his own name.

Florbela Espanca
This lady writer of strong poetic feelings was born in 1894 in Vila Viçosa, and died in 1930 in Matosinhos. Her poems and sonnets express the state of a woman with very strong emotions, internally tortured and fundamentally unsatisfied. It would be safe to suggest that she represented a segment of educated Portuguese women of that period. Very little of her work was published during her lifetime and her real recognition came tragically after she ended her life out of despair.

José Saramago
Born in Azinhaga in 1922. This author has built a reputation world-wide, and especially within his home country Portugal and also in Spain where he has made his home. Humble origins forced him to be self-taught in developing his natural writing skills. His strong left-wing sentiments caused him to seek work in various other fields during his early life. The first critically successful acknowledged work from his pen was in 1966 with Os Poemas Possíveis". Since 1974 he has contributed articles to many publications and for a time worked as assistant director of the national daily newspaper "Diário de Notícias". After being nominated various times for the Nobel Prize in Literature he was at last successful in 1998.

José-Augusto França
Jose-Augusto Rodrigues França born in Tomar in 1922 completed his academic education at the Sorbonne in Paris as a Doctor of History. A prolific writer he will probably be best remembered in the future for his historical works relating to the history of Portuguese Fine Arts and particularly during the period of the 20th Century. His sensitivity of the world of art and its history transfers itself in his books and critical writings.

Luís Vaz de Camões
Acknowledged as a poet to equal Shakespeare. He was born in Coimbra in 1525 and died in 1579. His main claim to fame is his outstanding work "Os Lusíadas" that he completed in 1572. It is an epic work that is devoted to the Portuguese historic voyages and their accomplishments. He based this work on many of his own experiences as he sailed in search of the New World. His work has been translated into many languages but even to this day much of what he wrote remains elusive in meaning.

Miguel Torga
Adolfo Correia da Rochawas born into a humble family in 1907 in the district of Vila Real. His early education was from the church and later in 1920 he emigrated to Brazil. Here he worked with his uncle in the coffee trade but continued with his studies. In 1925 he returned to Portugal and attended Coimbra University to read medicine. Upon qualifying he started a practice in the same city and commenced writing. He published many poems and sonnets under the pen-name Miguel Torga. He died in 1995.

Padre António Vieira
Born in Lisbon in 1608 and died in Bahia, Brazil, in 1697. His family moved to Brazil when he was only six years old. He was given a Jesuit religious education but was only ordained in 1635. He departed in 1641 for Portugal and was arrested on arrival. He then gained the favour of the King, Dom João IV, and was sent to Holland and later France as a diplomat. In 1665 after his return to Portugal he was again arrested and interrogated by the Inquisition. He returned to Brazil frustrated by the situation but later travelled to Rome to submit his views to the Pope. He lived a very long life full of turmoil, but his creative abilities and unlimited energy left behind numerous manuscripts and sermons that are revered today.

Sophia de Mello Breyner
Born in 1919, this lady poet commenced composing poetry at the age of 16. As a classical style poet she first published some works in 1941 under the title of “Poesia”. Later works include “Geografia” (1967), “Ilhas” (1990), “Musa” (1994), and “Signo” in 1994. She also published a collection of children’s stories that brought her more popular appeal. In 1999 she was awarded the laureate “Camões Prize for her outstanding contribution to Portuguese culture.


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