Espanca, Florbela (1894–1930)
Portuguese poet and short-story writer who is generally regarded as Portugal’s foremost woman poet. Name variations: Florbela de Alma da Conceiçåo Espanca. Born in December 1894 in Vila Viçosa, Portugal; died in Matosinhos, Portugal, on December 7, 1930; married three times.
Born out of wedlock in 1894 into the provincial world of the town of Vila Viçosa in Portugal’s Alto Alentejo province, Florbela Espanca lived life with an intensity that many of her contemporaries regarded as flagrantly reckless. Already divorced from the first of her three husbands at age 18, Espanca poured her emotions into lyric verse and short stories strongly influenced by the decadent symbolist literature popular at that time; these early works would be published posthumously in 1931. By 1917, she was in Lisbon, where she studied law and married a second time. In 1919, Espanca’s first book of poems, Livro de mágoas (Book of Woes), was published and was little noticed by critics. Although they revealed Espanca’s considerable talent, these poems also showed the influence of her mentor, Antonio Nobre. Her second marriage was as troubled as the first, and despite her personal unhappiness she marked her 1923 divorce with the publication of a second book of verse. This volume, Livro de Sóror Saudade (Book of Sister Saudade), has as its title the name given Espanca by a friend and fellow poet, Américo Durão.