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Sophia de Mello Breyner Andresen: Google Doodle celebrates the Portuguese poet’s 103rd birthday

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Sophia de Mello Breyner Andresen 103rd Birthday Google Doodle

Google Doodle celebrates the 103rd birthday of the Portuguese poet and writer Sophia de Mello Breyner Andresen, the first woman to earn the highest Portuguese honor for poetry the ‘Camões Prize,’ on November 6, 2022.

Who was Sophia de Mello Breyner Andresen?

Sophia de Mello Breyner Andresen was born on 6 November 1919 in Porto, Portugal. She was an acclaimed Portuguese poet.

She was raised by wealthy parents and a nanny who, at Sophia’s request, frequently read poetry and fiction aloud. Sometime before she could read, Sophia enchanted her family by presenting the works of 16th-century poets. By age 12, she was eagerly reading Homer.

In 1936, Sophia de Mello Breyner Andresen enrolled at the University of Lisbon and studied classical philology. She was especially attracted to Greek civilization and frequently explored Greek mythical figures, motifs, and places in her writing. After taking some college courses, Sophia got back to Porto to compose poetry and stories.

Sophia de Mello Breyner Andresen published her first book, “Poesia” (Poetry) in 1944. Her poetry frequently explored themes like existentialism and individualism. In the wake of marrying and beginning a family, Sophia started to focus on societal issues that would influence her children. Her second and third volumes of work, especially poems like “Livro Sexto,” focused on corruption and injustice.

Sophia de Mello Breyner Andresen worked together with the magazine “Cadernos de Poesia”, where she made friends with influential and notable authors: Ruy Cinatti and Jorge de Sena.

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In time, she became one of the most representative figures of a liberal political attitude, supporting the monarchic movement and criticizing President Salazar’s regime and its followers. The song called “Cantata da Paz”, became popular as an intervention song of the Progressive Catholics.

In 1964, Sophia de Mello Breyner Andresen received the Grand Prize of Poetry from the Portuguese Society of Writers for her book Livro Sexto. After the Revolution of 25 April, she was elected to the Constituent Assembly in 1975 by the Porto circle on a Socialist Party list while her husband joined the Social Democratic Party.

During the 1950s, Sophia de Mello Breyner Andresen became interested in children’s books and released O rapaz de bronze (The Bronze Boy). She composed nine additional books while exploring different avenues regarding short stories during this time.

Later in her career, she published her most acclaimed poetry, Dual and O nome das coisas (The Name of Things) — and went on to win the Max Jacob Poetry Prize and the Rainha Sofia Prize for Ibero-American Poetry.

In 1999, Sophia de Mello Breyner Andresen became the first woman to get the highest Portuguese award for poetry, the Prémio Camões (Camões Prize). She was likewise awarded the Max Jacob Poetry Prize, in 2001, and the Spanish Prémio Reina Sofia in 2003.

Other than her work as a writer, she translated Dante and Shakespeare into Portuguese.

Sophia de Mello Breyner Andresen died at 84 years old on 2 July 2004 in Lisbon.

Initially, her body was buried in Carnide Cemetery, yet on 20 February 2014, the Assembly of the Republic consistently decided to honor the poet by burying her remains in the Portuguese National Pantheon. The relocation ceremony took place on 2 July 2014.

Sophia de Mello Breyner Andresen’s poetry has been translated into English by Ruth Fainlight, and Richard Zenith, and most recently by Colin Rorrison with Margaret Jull Costa, as well as into numerous other world languages.

A documentary short film about Sophia de Mello Breyner Andresen was produced in 1969. It was the first finished movie by director João César Monteiro (then, at that point, using the name João César Santos).

Today, poetry lovers can track down her work online and in bookstores around the world.

On November 6, 2022, Google featured a Google Doodle on its homepage in Portugal for celebrating Sophia de Mello Breyner Andresen’s 103rd Birthday.

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