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Gabriela Mistral

Awards: Nobel Prize in Literature-1945 , Chilean National Prize for Literature-1951

Nobel Committee 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 York

Citizen: Chilean

Language: Spanish

    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,  Gabriele D'Annunzio and Frédéric Mistral

 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 life.

Notable Works: Sonetos de la muerto--Sonnets of Death(1914), Desolacion - Despair  (1922), Tala-(1938), Lagar- (1954),Poems de chile-- (1967, posthumously)

Gabriela Mistral

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