Fernando Pessoa

Fernando Pessoa was an important author and writer who managed to introduce gradually in the literature in Europe the Portuguese modernism . Despite the fact that his work was quite extensive and that his contributions were important, he was able to obtain recognition until after his death.

Personal information

  • When was he born: 06/13/1888
  • Where he was born: Lisbon, Portugal
  • When he died: 11/30/1935
  • Where he died: Lisbon, Portugal

Who was Fernando Pessoa?

Fernando Pessoa was one of the most important poets , essayists and translators of Portuguese nationality who became one of the most representative figures of poetry in his country during the 20th century.

  • Biography of Fernando Pessoa
  • Death
  • Personal life of Fernando Pessoa
  • Style
  • Physical characteristics
  • Personality
  • Acknowledgments
  • Works by Fernando Pessoa
  • Phrases
  • Importance
  • Presence in popular culture
  • Curiosities about Fernando Pessoa

Biography of Fernando Pessoa

Fernando Pessoa was born in Lisbon one 13 June 1888 . His father was Joaquim de Seabra Pessoa who worked as a public official for the Ministry of Justice and who was also a music critic, his mother, María Magdalena Pinheiro Nogueira . He was baptized in the Church of the Martyrs and when he was 5 years old his father died of tuberculosis. Later his mother remarried Commander Joao Miguel Rosa , who was the consul of Portugal in Durban and it was in this place that the author spent much of his childhood.

He received a British education and in 1899 he managed to enter Durban High School . In 1901 they returned to Portugal, however shortly after they had to return to Durban again where he decided to enter the Commercial School . In 1903 he entered the University , while living in South Africa he studied the Intermediate Examinations in Arts at the University Finally he returned to the Portuguese capital permanently.

He had contact with important writers of Portuguese literature and after the death of his grandmother who had left him a small inheritance he decided to use it to create a printing press, however it quickly went bankrupt so he decided to dedicate himself to translation. he worked for a time for Orpheu , Athena and Ruy Vaz magazines . His first book of poems was published in English in 1918 and his first work in the Portuguese language, which was the only one he published while he was alive, was the patriotic poem Mensagem.


Fernando Pessoa died on November 30, 1935 while he was admitted to the Hospital de Sao Luís dos Franceses, located in Lisbon due to a “colic in the liver” and complications related to cirrhosis that he had suffered from the high intake of alcohol during your lifetime.

Personal life of Fernando Pessoa

Regarding his personal life, the only love he had was Ofelia Queiroz , a woman to whom he dedicated a large number of texts and poems and with whom he maintained a quite passionate relationship. They met in 1920 when she came to look for work as a secretary at a drilling company that had a cousin of the writer. It was an extremely discreet relationship and it is said that their families never knew that they had anything.


Fernando Pessoa had a unique style, he wrote his poems in prose and adopted different types of personalities which he himself called heteronyms . These heteronyms were words that resulted from the union of two Greek voices and in total he used about 70 of them in his works. Its main heteronyms were:

  • Alberto Caeiro Da Silva : also called the anti humanist tubercular and had a mystical character.
  • Álvaro de Campos : was characterized by writing a tumultuous poetry and suffered from serious nervous breakdowns.
  • Alberto Mora : he was paranoid and also considered a philosopher of paganism.
  • Ricardo Reis : a scientific neoclassicist character who had a disciplined and meticulous personality.

Physical characteristics

Do not have an accurate description of their physical characteristics yet in your photos you can see a man with straight hair and black , we use mustache and glasses , his black eyebrows bushy well as profiled on his face.


Fernando Pessoa’s personality was quite controversial , many described him as a courteous person but at the same time elusive , familiar and cosmopolitan . He hardly ever smiled and even gave off a feeling of dread. He was always in search of stability to maintain a good psychological level, he was also obsessed mainly with writing. Some experts consider that the author had certain traits of psychosis due to the trances and depersonalizations of which he constantly spoke.

He also suffered from cyclothymia , this due to his great psychological instability which was evidenced in his writings and finally, it is considered that he suffered from different types of phobias, mainly to storms and lightning. Regarding his personality, he himself developed a theory and for this reason declared himself hysterical and neurasthenic .


Some of his recognitions were:

  • The Pessoa Prize was created, which is given annually to those people of Portuguese nationality who have had an important role in the scientific, artistic or literary field. This award was created by the Expresso newspaper and by the Unisys company in 1987.

Works by Fernando Pessoa

Among his main works are the following:

Books :

  • Book of Restlessness : a sample of the narrator’s life and his imagination creating empathy for characters who discover the richness of a human being who had the ability to blend in with everything.
  • The anarchist banker : focuses on unraveling all the social, political and economic mechanisms that were part of capitalism . He addressed personal issues looking at the world from a liberal point of view and its consequences.
  • Love letters : it was a type of narrative resource to be able to respect the spectrum of human communication.

Poems :

  • Poem in a straight line by the heteronym Álvaro de Campos
  • Lisbon revisited, from the heteronym Álvaro de Campos
  • Fernando Pessoa’s auto psychography
  • Tobacco shop, from the heteronym Álvaro de Campos
  • This
  • Triumphal ode, from the heteronym Álvaro de Campos
  • Omen
  • Anniversary, of the heteronym Álvaro de Campos
  • The herd keeper, from the heteronym Alberto Caeiro
  • I don’t know how many souls I have

Posthumous works:

  • Posthumous Works
  • Poems by Fernando Pessoa, 1942
  • Poems by Álvaro de Campos, 1944
  • A New Portuguese Poetry, 1944
  • Poetry by Alberto Caeiro, 1946
  • Odes of Ricardo Reis, 1946
  • Dramatic Poems, 1952


Some of his recognized phrases were the following:

  • “The consciousness of the unconsciousness of life is the oldest tax that falls on intelligence.”
  • “Going from the ghosts of faith to the specters of reason is nothing more than being changed cells.”
  • “ Not knowing about oneself ; that is living . Knowing bad about oneself, that is thinking ”.
  • “There is a lot of metaphysics in not thinking about anything.”
  • ” Love is a deadly sample of immortality.”
  • ” Thought is still the best way to get away from thought.”
  • “I was born at a time when most young people had stopped believing in God for the same reason that their elders had believed in Him: without knowing why.”


Without a doubt, Fernando Pessoa has been the most important Portuguese poet during the 20th century. He was also the inventor of heteronyms , complete poetic personalities that he could represent through his artistic and original manifestation . He is considered the great inventor of modern literature and in fact, his work has managed to be translated into 37 different languages. He was also the inventor of several literary currents such as Paulism , sensationalism and intersectionism, as well as the universe of egos.

Presence in popular culture

In popular culture it is possible to find several cinematographic films that have been based on some of the great works of Fernando Pessoa. This is the case of the film The State of Things which was based on his History of Lisbon , it tells the story of a film director who asks his sound engineer for help to go to Portugal, when he arrives at the place , the director has disappeared.

Filmmaker Alain Tanner also made the film Requiem, a film adaptation based on the poet’s work. In the White City , recorded in 1983, the story is told of a writer who arrives in Lisbon who has been called by the ghost of Pessoa.

Curiosities about Fernando Pessoa

Some curiosities of Fernando Pessoa are mentioned below:

  • It was related to the occult and mysticism mainly in the field of Freemasonry .
  • In a meeting he had with José Régio , Pessoa arrived a bit late and declared himself to be Álvaro de Campos .
  • In the part of his death an intestinal blockage is indicated as the reason for his death.
  • He was the first Portuguese writer to appear in the Pleiade, which was a very prestigious French collection that included great names in the field of literature.
  • He was a Gnostic Christian and he was against all organized churches, he was mainly against Rome.
  • It was anti-communist and anti-socialist .

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