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Leal was born in square Rossio, parish of Pena in Lisbon. He was the son of João António Gomes Leal (d. 1876), a customs officer, and Henrietta Fernandina Monteiro Alves Cabral Leal.
Leal studied literature, but did not complete his studies and became a notary clerk of Lisbon. During his youth took pose poet Bohemian,& Satanism, but with the death of his mother in 1910, he fell in the poverty and converted to Catholicism.