Castro Alves

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Castro Alves
Castro Alves, c. 1865
Castro Alves, c. 1865
BornAntônio Frederico de Castro Alves
(1847-03-14)14 March 1847
Curralinho, Bahia, Empire of Brazil
Died6 July 1871(1871-07-06) (aged 24)
Salvador, Bahia, Empire of Brazil
OccupationPoet, playwright
Alma materUniversity of São Paulo
GenrePoetry, theatre
SubjectAbolitionism, Republicanism, love
Literary movementRomanticism
Notable worksEspumas Flutuantes, Vozes d'África, O Navio Negreiro
PartnerEugênia Câmara
RelativesJosé Antônio da Silva Castro
Castro Alves Autógrafo.jpg

Antônio Frederico de Castro Alves (14 March 1847 – 6 July 1871) was a Brazilian poet and playwright, famous for his abolitionist and republican poems. One of the most famous poets of the "Condorism", he won the epithet of "O Poeta dos Escravos" ("The Poet of the Slaves").[1]

He is the patron of the 7th chair of the Brazilian Academy of Letters.[2]


A painting depicting Castro Alves' grandfather, José Antônio da Silva Castro (1792–1844), who fought in the 1821–23 Siege of Salvador

Castro Alves was born in the town of Curralinho (renamed "Castro Alves" in his honor in 1900), in the Brazilian state of Bahia, to Antônio José Alves, a doctor, and Clélia Brasília da Silva Castro, one of the daughters of José Antônio da Silva Castro (a.k.a. "Periquitão", Portuguese for "Big Parakeet"), a prominent fighter in the 1821–23 Siege of Salvador. In 1853, he was sent to study in the Colégio Sebrão, run by Abílio César Borges, the Baron of Macaúbas. There, he met and befriended Ruy Barbosa.

In 1862, he moved to Recife to study at the Faculdade de Direito do Recife, but he was rejected twice. He was not able to join the college until 1864, there meeting Tobias Barreto and José Bonifácio the Younger (step-grandson of the statesman José Bonifácio). They heavily influenced Alves' writing style, and he, in turn, influenced them both. His father died in 1866 and shortly after, he met the Portuguese actress Eugênia Câmara, and started dating her.

In 1867, Alves returned to Bahia with Câmara and wrote his drama Gonzaga, ou A Revolução de Minas, based on the life of the Luso-Brazilian Neoclassic poet Tomás António Gonzaga and his participation in the failed 1789 Minas Conspiracy. In the following year, he and Câmara went to São Paulo, where he entered the Faculdade de Direito da Universidade de São Paulo and once more met Ruy Barbosa. There he also befriended Pedro Luís Pereira de Sousa and wrote a poem named "Deusa incruenta", based on Sousa's work "Terribilis Dea". His play Gonzaga was performed at the end of 1868. It was well received by critics and public alike, but Alves was sad because his romantic engagement with Eugênia Câmara had terminated.

During a hunting trip in the same year, Alves received an accidental shotgun wound in his left foot, which had to be amputated due to the risk of gangrene. However, a prosthesis was made for him, and thus he was able to walk again (although with the use of an assistive cane). He spent 1870 in his home-state of Bahia, trying to recover from the tuberculosis he got while in São Paulo. Also in 1870, Alves published the poetry book Espumas Flutuantes – the only work he published during his lifetime. All his other works were published posthumously.

Alves' attempts to mitigate the tuberculosis were in vain; he died on 6 July 1871, in the city of Salvador, at 24.

A statue of Castro Alves at his hometown, the homonymous city


Alves also translated into Portuguese many poems by Victor Hugo, and Lord Byron's "Darkness" and "Lines Inscribed Upon a Cup Formed from a Skull". They can be found on Espumas Flutuantes.


Representations in popular culture[edit]

Alves was portrayed by Paulo Maurício in the 1949 film Vendaval Maravilhoso, loosely based on Jorge Amado's 1941 book The ABC of Castro Alves, and by Bruno Garcia in Silvio Tendler's 1999 documentary Castro Alves: Retrato Falado do Poeta.


  1. ^ Santana, Mateus. "147 anos sem Castro Alves, o Poeta dos Escravos". Fundação Cultural Palmares (in Brazilian Portuguese). Retrieved 17 March 2020.
  2. ^ "Castro Alves". Academia Brasileira de Letras (in Brazilian Portuguese). Retrieved 18 March 2020.
  3. ^ "Castro Alves Lodge". via Internet Archive. Archived from the original on 20 March 2016.
  4. ^ "Castro Alves Theater".
  5. ^ B'nai B'rith (1963). Manual de la B'nai B'rith (p. 36). Santiago, Chile.

External links[edit]

Preceded by
New creation
Brazilian Academy of LettersPatron of the 7th chair
Succeeded by