On This Day
1863 – Rosalía de Castro publishes Cantares Gallegos, the first book in the Galician language.
María Rosalía Rita de Castro (Galician pronunciation: [rosaˈli.ɐ ðɪ ˈkastɾʊ]; 24 February 1837 – 15 July 1885), was a Spanish romanticist writer and poet.
Writing in Galego and Spanish, after the period known as the Séculos Escuros (lit. Dark Centuries), she became an important figure of the Galician Romantic movement, known today as the Rexurdimento (“Renaissance”), along with Manuel Curros Enríquez and Eduardo Pondal. Her poetry is marked by saudade, an almost ineffable combination of nostalgia, longing and melancholy.
She married Manuel Murguía, a member of the important literary group known as the Royal Galician Academy, historian, journalist and editor of Rosalía’s books. The couple had seven children: Alexandra (1859–1937), Aura (1868–1942), twins Gala (1871–1964) and Ovidio (1871–1900), Amara (1873–1921), Adriano (1875–1876) and Valentina (stillborn, 1877). Only two of Rosalía’s children married, Aura in 1897 and Gala in 1922; neither they nor their siblings left any children, and thus, today there are no living descendants of Rosalía de Castro and her husband. Their son Ovidio was a promising painter, his career cut short by early death.
Rosalía published her first collection of poetry in Galician, Cantares gallegos [gl] (“Galician Songs”), on 17 May 1863. This date, 17 May, is now known as the Día das Letras Galegas (“Galician Literature Day”), and commemorates Rosalía’s achievement by dedicating, every year, this special day to a different writer, who must also write in the Galician language, since 1963. Día das Letras Galegas is an official holiday in the Autonomous Community of Galicia.
Relative poverty and sadness marked Rosalía’s life, in spite of this, she had a strong sense of commitment to the poor and to the defenseless. She was a strong opponent of authoritative abuse or abuse of authority and an ardent defender of women’s rights. Rosalía suffered from uterine cancer and died in Padrón, province of A Coruña, Spain, on 15 July 1885.
She is buried in the Panteón de Galegos Ilustres, a pantheon (mausoleum) in the Convent of San Domingos de Bonaval in Santiago de Compostela, Spain.
Born On This Day
1794 – Anna Brownell Jameson, Irish-English author (d. 1860)
Anna Brownell Jameson (17 May 1794 – 17 March 1860) was the first Anglo-Irish art historian. Born in Ireland, she migrated to England at the age of four, becoming a well-known British writer and contributor to nineteenth-century thought on a range of subjects including early feminism, art history (particularly sacred art), travel, Shakespeare, poets, and German culture. Jameson was connected to some of the most prominent names of the period including Fanny Kemble, Elizabeth Barrett-Browning and Robert Browning, Harriet Martineau, Ottilie von Goethe (the daughter-in-law of Goethe), Lady Byron, Charles and Elizabeth Eastlake, and Barbara Leigh Smith Bodichon.
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