Mistral, Gabriela, 1889-1957

Alternative names
Birth 1889
Death 1857
Birth 1889-04-07
Death 1957-01-10
English, Spanish; Castilian

Biographical notes:

Poet and Nobel Laureate (1945) Gabriela Mistral was born Lucila Godoy y Alcayaga in Vicuña, Chile, in 1889. Mistral was an active member of the League of Nations and served as Chilean consul in Italy, Spain, and Portugal. She taught Spanish literature in the United States at Columbia University, Barnard College, and Vassar College, and at the University of Puerto Rico. Her works include Desolación, Ternura, and Tala . She died in 1957.

From the guide to the Gabriela Mistral Papers 1987-20, 2004-01. 42706327., 1911-1949, (Benson Latin American Collection, The University of Texas at Austin)

Lucila Godoy Alcayaga, who wrote as Gabriela Mistral, was born April 7, 1889, in Vicuña, Chile, and died in New York on Jan. 10, 1957. Her experience as a rural teacher (1905-1925), which turned her into a leading authority on rural education, her contributions to several literary magazines, along with the award-winning "Sonetos de la muerte" (1914), brought her international attention. The publication of her first book of poems "Desolación" in 1922, which would subsequently earn her the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1945, enabled her to end her teaching career of 15 years and start a life of international responsibilities as consul of Chile (1925-1957) serving in Italy, Spain, Portugal, Brazil, and the United States. Her next two works: "Lecturas para mujeres" (1923) and "Ternura" (1924) consolidated her fame. While consul in Madrid (1933-1935), her criticism of social conditions became known. Her answer to her critics, the typescript of "Respuesta a un manifiesto de españoles," published in Santiago de Chile in 1935, is in the collection. On Aug. 1937, she embarked on a trip to South America, from where she wrote most of the letters in the collection, chiefly concerning the publication of her third book of poems "Tala" (1938), the proceeds of which were donated to help homeless children from Spain. Her "Poemas de las madres" (1950) and "Lagar" (1954) were the last books of poems published during her lifetime. "Poema de Chile" was published posthumously in 1967.

From the description of Gabriela Mistral letters, 1936-1947. (University of Texas Libraries). WorldCat record id: 42706327


Gabriela Mistral was born Lucila Godoy y Alcayata on April 6, 1889 in Vicuña, Chile –one of the main cities in the valle de Elqui. Her father, Juan Jeronimo Godoy, was a school teachers in latin, greek, philosophy, literature and theology and her mother, Petronila Alcayaga Godoy, was a seamstress.

At the age of 14 Gabriela began working as a teacher in order to help support her mother and family since their father left when Gabriela was only 3 years old. Around this period she was beginning to write and explore other authors and poets. A year after she began teaching Gabriela had her first publication, "El Muerte del Poeta" in the newspaper El Coquimbo. Following her publication Mistral wrote and published several works under various pseudonyms, including Gabriela Mistral.

In 1914 the Sociedad de Artistas y Escritores de Chile awarded Gabriela for her collection of poems titled Sonetos de la Muerte. After receiving national recognition she stuck with the name Gabriela Mistral – a fusion from the names of Italian poet Gabriela D' Annunzio and French poet Fédéric Mistral. She continued to devote herself to education, especially women's education as a teacher and director of a girls' school in Chile. She was later invited to Mexico by the Minister of Public Education, José Vasconcelos, to participate in programming Mexico's national education.

Her writings achieved an international reputation after the publication of her first book Desolación in 1922. She toured the United States, Europe and Latin America establishing friendships with many contemporary writers. During her travels Gabriela published more of her poetry. She returned several times to Chile, but lived primarily in France and Italy. There she was very active with the League for Intellectual Co-operation for the League of Nations. After, Mistral worked as a professor at several prestigious universities in the United States. Later, she became Chile's ambassador and consul while staying in other parts of the world such as Brazil, Spain, Italy, Portugal and a short period in Los Angeles, California. In 1945 Gabriela Mistral received the Nobel Prize –she was the first Latin American to be awarded the prize for Literature. Due to failing health, Mistral stopped traveling and settled in New York where she passed away on December 10, 1957.

From the guide to the Gabriela Mistral collection, 1924-1948, (University of California, Los Angeles. Library. Department of Special Collections.)


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  • Women authors--Correspondence
  • Authors, Chilean--20th century--Correspondence
  • Cartas chilenas--Colecciones
  • Women authors--Chile--Correspondence
  • Women authors, Chilean--Archival resources
  • Cartas chilenas
  • Poesías chilenas
  • Manuscripts, Spanish


  • Writer


  • Republic of Chile, 00, CL
  • Republic of Chile, 00, CL