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Best Brazilian Female Writers At The Turn Of The 20th Century

“It was an odd period, unsatisfactory, full of ungrateful aspirations. I had long dreamed of being useful to the world, but since we were girls with little money and born in a specific social position, it was not thought necessary for us to do anything other than to entertain ourselves until the moment and opportunity for marriage appear. Better any marriage than none, an old foolish aunt used to say”.

“The woman of the upper classes had to understand early that the only open door to a life that was both easy and respectable was that of marriage. Soon, it depended on her good appearance, conforming to the masculine taste of those days, her charm and the arts of his dressing table.” (Charlotte Despard, unpublished memoirs, record of 1850).

Although Charlotte Despard was British, the passage above describes the scenario that resembled all women in the mid-nineteenth century. In the midst of a period during which intellectual and cultural life was almost exclusively for men, Brazil had brave female figures who dared to write and publish their writings. Women who have often had their works ignored by the criticism of the time, but now – thanks to the studies of contemporary criticism – are reemerging and receiving due recognition for their works and achievements. Get to know some of them!

#1 – Albertina Bertha (1880 – 1953)

Image Source: O Globo via Fundação Biblioteca Nacional

Albertina Bertha was a consistent advocate of women’s suffrage and supported the creation of a Women’s Academy of Letters. Her debut novel, published in 1916, is entitled “Exaltation” and has a plot that contains a certain erotic content, which is the main reason why the work was not so well received by the conservative public of the time.

#2 – Andradina de Oliveira (1864 – 1935)

Image Source: Cover of the commemorative edition launched in 2010 by Editora Mulheres

Andradina de Oliveira was the patroness of the eleventh chair of the Literary Academy for Women in Rio Grande do Sul. Born in 1864, she was the writer responsible for founding the literary journal known as Escrínio, where she published the novel “The forgiveness” – a portrait of the Belle Époque of Rio Grande. Subsequently, in 1912, he published “Divorce?” in defense of women’s freedom within marriage.

#3 – Auta de Souza (1876 – 1901)

Image Source: Pinterest

Auta de Souza, since her young days, was a great collaborator of several newspapers and magazines, like The Republic, Oasis and The Tribuna. Her poems were published in O Paiz, and in 1900, her only book “Horto” – whose preface was written by Olavo Bilac – was released and obtained an intense repercussion.

#4 – Emília Bandeira de Melo (1852 – 1910)

Image Source: Wikipedia

Also known by her most famous pseudonym, Carmen Dolores is one of very few women who represents naturalistic aesthetics in Brazil. Author of the work “The Fight”, she was a columnist of the newspaper O Paiz and one of the pioneers in the fight for the education of the women.

#5 – Josefina Álvares de Azevedo (1851 – 1905)

Image Source: Pinterest

Josefina Álvares de Azevedo was the journalist and writer who founded the newspaper The Family, a periodic that circulated until 1898 and dealt with education for women – an instrument that was seen by Josefina as the key to female emancipation – besides containing poetry and short stories. In 1890, she wrote a play “The Female Vote,” an issue that had already been raised in articles of her property.

#6 – Júlia Lopes de Almeida (1862 – 1934)

Image Source: Pinterest

Júlia Lopes de Almeida is considered a great Brazilian novelist. Author of “The Bankruptcy”, of 1901, work that addresses the feminine independence, was responsible for a significant literary production in a period during which there was lack of cultural production in Rio de Janeiro. In addition, she was part of the intellectuals who idealized and planned the Brazilian Academy of Letters. Julia, however, was excluded from the Academy, which ceased to be exclusively for men in 1977, when Rachel de Queiroz was elected to occupy a seat 5.

#7 – Narcisa Amália (1852 – 1924)

Image Source: O Globo via Fundação Biblioteca Nacional

Narcisa Amália was the first woman to become a professional journalist in Brazil. In 1884, she founded O Gazetinha, a newspaper that achieved great projection in Brazilian society and which defended women, minorities in general and the abolition of slavery. Her first and only book of poetry, “Nebulae”, was released in 1872 and had great literary repercussion.

We have amazing women in our history, what about reading them?

Tiemi Osato

Casper Libero '21

Journalism student. A dog person, but also a huge cat lover. Currently working with hard news and discovering what is out there in the world of politics and environment. Previously I've worked with culture, events and turism.
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