María Bibiana Benítez
|María Bibiana Benítez|
Puerto Rico's first known female poet and playwright
|Born||María Bibiana Benítez Constanza
December 10, 1783
Aguadilla, Puerto Rico
|Died||April 18, 1873
San Juan, Puerto Rico
|Notable works||Soneto, Diálogo Alegórico, A La Vejez|
|Relatives||Alejandrina Benítez de Gautier (niece); José Gautier Benítez (grand-nephew)|
Benitez, (born María Bibiana Benítez Constanza [note 1]) was born into a middle-class family in the town of Aguadilla. Her father Jose Benitez, was a lieutenant in the Spanish Army who on April 28, 1797 defended "La Puntilla" against an English invasion. He was married to Juana Bautista Benitez. Her family loved literature and owned a private library which contained a collection of the best books available at the time. Her father could afford such a luxury since he also held an important position within the Spanish colonial government. Benítez was able to attend the best private schools where she learned about poetry and composition.
In 1813, she moved to the coastal town of Luquillo, where she wrote the majority of her poems. In 1820, her brother Pedro Jose Benítez and his wife died and she took it upon herself to raise her orphaned niece Alejandrina Benítez de Gautier, who would in the future become a renowned poetess herself. Benitez was also the great-aunt of whom is considered to be the greatest Puerto Rican poet, Jose Gautier Benítez.
In 1832, Benitez published her first poem, La Ninfa de Puerto Rico, which is considered to be the first poem written by a Puerto Rican woman. She also became the first Puerto Rican woman to write a dramatic play when she wrote La Cruz del Morro (The Cross of El Morro). The play was based on the attack of the city of San Juan by the Dutch with the intention of invading Puerto Rico in 1625 and the heroic defense by the islanders. This was the first dramatic play written in Puerto Rico dealing with a local historical event. Among her better known poems are: "Soneto" (1839), "Diálogo Alegórico" (1858) and "A La Vejez."
Benitez moved to the Calle Cristo in city of San Juan. In San Juan she presented her play and she also published the rest of her poems. Among her better known poems are "Soneto" (1839) and "Dialogo Alegorico" (1858). Maria Bibiana Benitez died on April 18, 1873 in San Juan Puerto Rico.
There is a book written about her life titled "Los Silencios De Maria Bibiana Benitez" (English: The Silence of Maria Bibiana Benitez) by Maria Arrillaga.
- List of Latin American writers
- List of Puerto Rican writers
- List of Puerto Ricans
- Puerto Rican literature
- Multi-Ethnic Literature of the United States
- History of women in Puerto Rico