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Mistral, Gabriela (orig. Lucilla Godoy de Alcayaga)

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Born: 1889 AD
Died: 1957 AD, at 67 years of age.

Nationality: Chilean
Categories: Poets

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1889 – She was born on the 7th day of April this year in Vicuña, but was raised in the small Andean village of Montegrande, where she attended the primary taught by her older sister, Emelina Molina. She respected her sister greatly.

 

1903 - At age 14, she began to support herself and her mother by working as a teacher's aide in the seaside town of Compania Baja, near La Serena, Chile. Her mother, Petronila Alcayaga, a tailor, died in 1929. She dedicated the first section of the book Tala (Tree Fall) to her.

 

1904 – She published some early poems, such as Ensoñaciones, Carta Íntima (Intimate Letter) and Junto al Mar, in the local newspaper El Coquimbo: Diario Radical, and La Voz de Elqui using various pseudonyms.

 

1906 – While working as a teacher, she met Romeo Ureta, a railway worker, who killed himself in 1909. The profound effects of death were already in the poet's work; writing about his suicide led the poet to consider death and life more broadly than previous generations of Latin American poets.

 

1914 - Formal recognition came on December 12 of this year, when she was awarded first prize in a national literary contest Juegos Florales in Santiago, with the work Sonetos de la Muerte (Sonnets of Death).

 

1922 – She was invited to Mexico by that country's Minister of Education, Jose Vasconcelos. He had her join in the nation's plan to reform libraries and schools, to start a national education system. That year she published Desolación in New York, which won her international acclaim.

 

1924 - Her international stature led to lectures first in the United States and then in Europe. In this year, while traveling to Europe for the first time, she published Ternura (Tenderness) in Madrid, a collection of lullabies and rondas written primarily for children but often focused on the female body.

 

1925 - She lived primarily in France and Italy between this year and 1933. During these years, she worked for the League for Intellectual Co-operation of the League of Nations. She also taught at Barnard College of Columbia University, Vassar College and the University of Puerto Rico at Rio Piedras.

 

1932 - Like many Latin American artists and intellectuals, Mistral served as a consul from this year until her death, working in Naples, Madrid, Lisbon, Nice, Petrópolis, Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, Veracruz, Mexico, Rapallo and Naples, Italy, and New York.

 

1938 - Tala appeared in this year, published in Buenos Aires with the help of longtime friend and correspondent Victoria Ocampo. The proceeds for the sale were devoted to children orphaned by the Spanish Civil War.

 

1943 - On the 14th day of August of this year, her 17-year-old nephew Juan Miguel killed himself. The grief of this death, as well as her responses to tensions of the Cold War in Europe and the Americas, are the subject of the last volume of poetry published in her lifetime, Lagar, which appeared in 1954.

 

1945 - On the 15th day of November of this year, she became the first Latin American woman to receive the Nobel Prize for Literature. She received the award in person from King Gustav of Sweden on the 10th of December of the same year.

 

1947 – She received a doctor honoris causa from Mills College, Oakland, California.

 

1951 – She was awarded the long overdue National Literature Prize in Chile.

 

1957 – Due to poor health eventually slowed her traveling. During the last years of her life, she made her home in Hempstead, New York, where she died from cancer of the pancreas on the 10th day of January of this year at aged 67. Her remains were returned to Chile nine days later.


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Page last updated: 11:39am, 20th Jun '07