Antônio Gonçalves Dias 

Portrait of Antônio Gonçalves Dias

Antônio Gonçalves Dias was the Brazilian National Poet, a lawyer and dramatist. He was born on 10th August 1823 in Boa Vista, Maranhao, Brazil and died on 3rd November 1863 off the coast of Maranhão, Brazil aged 41.

Major Works

“Cancao do Exilo” (Song of Exile) (1843)
“Primeiros Cantos” (First Poems”) (1847)
“Segundos Cantos” (Second or More Poems) (1848)
“Últimos Cantos” (Last Poems) (1851)

Biography Timeline

Antônio Gonçalves Dias was born on 10th August 1823 in Caxias, Maranhao, Brazil. His father was the Portugese Antônio Gonçalves Dias and his mother was Joao Manuel Goncalves Dias. He was the racial mixture of Portuguese, Indian, and African that was common in Brazil.

1838: After completing his studies in Brazil in French, Latin and Philosophy he leaves for the university of Coimbra in Portugal where he studies law.

1843: He writes the famous poem “Canção do Exílio” as a student and also completes the drama “Patkull”.

1845: He graduates from Coimbra and returned to Brazil. He settles in Rio de Janeiro where he stays until 1854. He writes “Beatrix Cenci”. 

1846:  He begins to write the play “Leonor de Mendonça”. 

1847: He publishes Primeiros Cantos” (First Poems). He completes “Leonor de Mendonca” and tries to have it performed at the Conservatorio de Musica do Rio de Janeiro but it is rejected.

1848: He publishes “Segundos Cantos” (Second or More Poems) and writes another poetry book “Sextilhas de Frei Antão”. (Friar Anton’s Sextilles).

1849: He becomes professor of History and Latin at the Colegio Pedro the Second.

1850: He writes “Boabdil” and “Meditacao” (Meditation) which remains unfinished.

1851: He publishes “Últimos Cantos” (Last Poems) which includes the narrative poem “I-Juca-Pirama”. Hopingto marry the 14-year-old Ana Amélia Ferreira do Vale, whom has dedicated many love poems to, he travels to Northern Brazil, however, the girl’s mother refuses to allow it, citing his mestizo (mixed race) origins. This event inspires his poem “Ainda uma vez – adeus!”. Back in Rio he marries Olímpia Carolina da Costa who have a stillborn child together.

1854: He is sent to Europe by the Secretary of Foreign Affairs to look at how educational institutions organise their courses.

1856: He divorces Olímpia. Whilst in Leipzig he publishes three poetry books in a single volume entitled “Cantos”. He writes the beginning of the epic “Os Timbiras” but never finishes it.

1857: He publishes Dicionário da Língua Tupi” (Dictionary of Tipi Lanuage – i.e. ancient Brazilian Language). He is given a government post where he surveys the school system in Northern Brazil.

1859: He is part of a scientific exploration of his country’s natural resources in the upper Amazon valley but catches tuberculosis.

1860: He returns to Brazil and founds the magazine “Guanabara” with Joaquim Manuel de Macedo and Manuel de Aaraujo Porto Algere. He explores the Negro and Madeira rivers on a scientific exploration.

1862: He travels back to Europe hoping to find a cure for his tuberculosis but his health steadily worsens.

1863: In October he travels to Lisbon where he translates “The Bride of Messina” by Friedrich Schiller and some of Heinrich Heine’s poetry. After a short stay in France he boards the ship Ville de Boulogne bound for Brazil.

Antônio Gonçalves Dias died on 3rd November 1863 in a shipwreck in the Bay of Cumã off the coast of Maranhão, Brazil. He was the only passenger not to escape as he was sleeping in his cabin at the time.