Nobel Prize in Literature-1945 , Chilean National Prize
in its citation stated that the prize was given for
"for her lyric poetry which, inspired by
powerful emotions, has made her name a symbol of the idealistic
aspirations of the entire Latin American world. "
Born: 07/04/1889 in Vicuna, Chile
Died: 11/01/1957 in Hampstead, New
Lucila Godoy Alcayaga (who wrote
under the pen-name Gabriela Mistral and later became identified with
that name) was born in Vicuna, a city in the middle of the country
towards the West end and famous for grapes. Her childhood was
difficult, financially and emotionally. Her father had deserted the
family and mother struggled hard to raise children. At the age of 15,
Gabriela worked as teacher's assistant to earn money.
In 1904, she published
some poems in local newspapers and the poet in her was taking shape.
In 1907, he met a railway worker, Romelio Ureta, who later committed
suicide. This profoundly affected her. She looked at life, death and
the pangs of life with more intensity than other Latin American poets.
The first national recognition came to her when her poem collection "Sonnets
of Death" got the first prize in a National Literary Contest in
Santiago, capital of Chile. Story has it that she wrote the poem with
her pen-name which she derived from her two favorite poets,
D'Annunzio and Frédéric
Gabriela's rapid rise is attributed to
her association with the teaching profession, her willingness to
travel and the tremendous shortage of good teachers in Chile. Her
literary talent worked as a complement to the rise. In 1922, she was
invited by Minister of Education, Govt. of Mexico to work and she
accepted the same. After two years in Mexico, she traveled to USA and
Europe. During her Mexico days, Desolacion was published and
brought her international acclaim.
During 1926-32, she lived primarily in
France and Italy. During the period and afterwards, she traveled
frequently giving lectures. She was a great orator. In her last years,
she shifted to Rosalyn, New York. She died of pancreatic cancer at the
age of 67. Her remains was returned to Chile and the country observed
three days of national mourning.
Landmark:* was the first Latin American to
win the Nobel Prize in Literature. * Her portrait appears on 5000
Chilean peso bank notes.* In August,1943, Mistral's 17 year old nephew
whom she regarded as her son died. The grief of death, horror of
Second World War is reflected in her work Lagar. * Her
poem Dolor in the book Desolacion details her
unsuccessful love affair ending in the suicide of her lover. * Mistral
never married. Even though, she was involved in several affairs,
details are not known since she was very secretive about her emotional
Sonetos de la muerto--Sonnets of Death(1914),
Order Gabriela Mistral's Books below