Writers, Land of Culture

Camilo Castelo Branco

Camilo Castelo Branco was born in Lisbon on March 13th 1825 and died in São Miguel de Seide on June 1st 1890. He was the son of Manuel Joaquim Botelho Castelo Branco, lost his mother at the age of two and his father at the age of ten, going to live with his aunt from his father’s side, Rita Emília, in Vila Real.

In 1839, when his sister Carolina got married, he went to live with her and his brother in law, Vilarinho da Samardã, where he met Father António de Azevedo, “who taught him Christian doctrine, Latin, French and Portuguese (EnciclopédiaVerboLuso-Brasileira Nº 5, 1998, 950).

Camilo Castelo Branco got married quite young, aged only sixteen, to Joaquina Pereira da França. However, this relationship did not last long and he left her to be with Patrícia Emília, and later with Isabel Cândida Mourão.

Just like his love life, his professional choices too were unpredictable: between 1842 and 1845 he was enrolled at the Medical Surgery School of Porto, but in 1846 he left to Coimbra where it is believed he wanted to study Law, though he never started the degree.

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In 1848, he settled in the city of Porto wanting to dedicate his professional life to journalism, but in 1850 he ended up enrolling in the seminary, embracing religious life. However, this vocation stopped before it started and Camilo “took up the adventurous life of fun-seeking romantic “lion”, split between the cafés, theatres, the saloons of the Porto bourgeoisie, and the editorial offices of the newspapers” (ibid.). This is when he met Ana Augusta Plácido “the femme fatal of his life” (ibid.), then married to Manuel Pinheiro Alves. They fell in love and ran away to Lisbon, and ended up going to prison in Porto for the crime of adultery. They ended up being pardoned and went to live in Lisbon until the death of Pinheiro Alves, after which they went to live in São Miguel de Seide.

Aná Plácido and Pinheiro Alves had one son, Manuel, whom Camilo and Ana gave two more brothers: Jorge and Nuno. During twenty-five years, Camilo lived only from his writing and in 1858 he was accepted into the Academy of Science on recommendation by Alexandre Herculano.

Going increasingly blind and with his feelings for Ana Plácido becoming less, Camilo gave up living and committed suicide.

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