Almeida Garrett

Portrait of Almeida Garrett.

João Baptista da Silva Leitão de Almeida Garrett was a Portuguese poet, playwright, journalist and politician. He was born on 4th February 1799 in Porto, Portugal and died on 9th December 1854 in Lisbon, Portugal aged 55.

Major Works

“Camões” (1825)
“Dona Branca” (White Lady) (1826) 
“Um Auto de Gil Vicente” (Gil Vicente’s Car) (1838)
“O Alfageme de Santarém” (The Alfagemes of Santarém) (1841)
“Frei Luís de Sousa” (Friar Luís de Sousa) (1843)
“Viagens na Minha Terra” (Voyage to My Land) (1846)
“O Arco de Sant’Ana” (The Arch of Saint Ana) (1850)

Biography Timeline

João Baptista da Silva Leitão de Almeida Garrett was born on 4th February 1799 in Porto, Portugal. His father was António Bernardo da Silva Garrett, a nobleman and Knight of the Order of Christ. His mother was Ana Augusta de Almeida Leitão.

1809: His family flee from the second invasion by French Napoleonic troops and travel to Angra do Herismo on Terceira Island in the Azores to be with relatives. His uncle Dom Frei Alexandre da Sagrada Familia sets about educating him. His mulatto Brazilian nanny Rosa de Lima teaches him traditional stories which influence his later work.

1818: He moves back to Portugal and studies law at the university of Coimbra. He publishes “O Retrato de Vénus” for which he is prosecuted as it is deemed atheistic and immoral. He adds his pen name de Almeida Garrett to the title page which he feels is more aristocratic.

1819: He writes “Lucrécia” (Lucretia).

1820: He graduates from Coimbra already having already established himself as a playwright and a liberal. He publishes the play “Mérope”. A liberal revolution breaks out in Porto although he does not become active directly, however he writes two patriotic verses, the “Hymno Constitucional” and the “Hymmno Patriotico” which his friends distribute in the streets of Porto. He also publishes the poem “O Roubo das Sabinas” (The Rape of the Sabine Women).

1821: He writes the poem “O Retrato de Vénus” (The Portrait of Venus) and the play “Catão” (Cato).

1823: He marries the thirteen-year-old Luísa Cândida Midosi and then is forced into exile due to his liberal views after the “Vilafrancada” coup led by Infante Dom Miguel and goes to England. They settle in Edgbaston in Birmingham and he is influenced by the works of William Shakespeare and Walter Scott.

1825: He moves to France and writes the epic poems “Camões”. 

1826: He returns to Portugal where he writes the poem “Dona Branca” (White Lady) which along with “Camoes” are usually considered the first Romantic works in Portuguese literature. He founds the newspapers “Oh Portuguez” and “O Chronista”.

1828: King Miguel comes to power in Portugal and he is forced to leave for England once more where he publishes the poem “Adozinda” and puts on a performance of his tragic play “Catão” at the Theatre Royal in Plymouth. 

1829: He publishes the poem “Lírica de João Mínimo” (João Mínimo’s Lyric) and writes “O Tratado “Da Educação” (A Treatise on Education).

1830: He writes “Portugal na Balança da Europa” (Portugal on the Scales of Europe).

1832: He returns to Portugal during the landing at the town of Midelo with liberal forces on 8th July and works for the new government.

1834: He briefly becomes Consul General of the new regime in Brussels, Belgium.

1835: He returns to Portugal and divorces Luísa Midosi.

1836: He forms a relationship with the seventeen-year-old Adelaide Deville Pastor and they have a daughter called Maria Adelaide together. Her early life is the inspiration for his play “Frei Luis de Sousa” (Friar Luís de Sousa) which is premiered in 1843.

1837: He becomes a member of Parliament and distinguishes himself as an orator. He is tasked with working on proposals for the formation of the Queen Maria the Second National Theatre and realises he has to create new plays and train actors and audiences to revive native Portuguese literature. He writes a series of historical prose dramas and creates a Conservatory of Dramatic Art.

1838: He publishes “Um Auto de Gil Vicente” (Gil Vicente’s Car).

1839: His partner Adelaide Deville Pastor dies tragically young.

1842: He writes the play “O Alfageme de Santarém” (The Alfagemes of Santarém).

1843: His play “Frei Luís de Sousa” (Friar Luís de Sousa) is considered one of the greatest Portuguese works. He also publishes the poetry collection “Romanceiro e Cancioneiro Geral” (Romance and General Songbook). In July his trip to Santarem provides material for his later work “Viagens na Minha Terra” (Voyage to My Land).

1844: He writes “Miragaia” based upon the medieval Portuguese “Lenda de Gaia” (Legend of Gaia). 

1845: He writes the poem “Flores sem Fruto” (Flowers without Fruit).

1846: “Viagens na Minha Terra (Voyage to My Land) is published and he writes the plays “Falar Verdade a Mentir” (Speaking the Truth by Lying) and Dona Filipa de Vilhena”. (Lady Filipa of Vilhena).

1848: He publishes “As Profecias do Bandarra” (Bandarra’s Prophecies), “Um Noivado no Dafundo” (A Wedding in Dafundo) and “A Sobrinha do Marquês” (The Marquis’s Niece).

1849: He publishes “Memórias Históricas de José Xavier Mouzinho da Silveira” (Historical Memories of (the Portuguese statesman) Jose Xavuer Mouzinho da Silveira).

1850: His historical romance “O Arco de Sant’Ana” (The Arch of Saint Ana) is published. It is probably the first Romantic novel produced in Portugal and takes its inspiration from “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” by Victor Hugo.

1851: He publishes the verse collection “Romanceiro” (Romance) in three volumes.

1852: Queen Maria the Second of Portugal rewards his service by making him first Viscount of Almeida Garrett. He also serves as minister for foreign affairs for a short while.

1853: He becomes the lover of Rosa de Montúfar y Infante, a Spanish noblewoman, whom he celebrates in his last poetry book collection “Fábulas e Folhas Caídas” (Fables and Fallen Leaves).

João Baptista da Silva Leitão de Almeida Garrett died of cancer on 9th December 1854 in Lisbon, Portugal. He was buried at the Cemetery of Prazeres. In 1903 his remains were transferred to the national pantheon in the Jeronimos Monastery, Lisbon. His title passed to his bother Alexandre despite his wish it should go to his daughter Maria Adelaide.

Further Information

List of works by Garrett.