Biographical & Bibliographical Notes
Spanish queen of England. Lived 1485-1536). Her parents, Ferdinand II and Isabella I, were known as "the Catholic kings." It was this terrible twosome who initiated the Spanish Inquisition, completed the reconquest of Spain from the Moors, and ruthlessly expelled the Spanish Jews from their country. But there was some good, too. Isabella who helped define and recognize women's rights; and it was she who gave the permission that financed the voyage of Christopher Columbus to the New World. Catherine was one of five children. Her life was neither as full or fulfilling as her mother's. Married off when she was only sixteen to England's Henry VII, she was widowed when he died a year later. So she was married off to his son, Henry VIII. She bore Henry six offspring, but only one survived--a girl. You may have heard of her. Her name was Mary. Discontented with the lack of a male heir, Henry applied to Rome for an annulment, but he was refused. It was that refusal that led to the English Reformation; Henry broke with Rome, married Anne Boleyn, and had his marriage to Catherine annulled by his own archbishop of Canterbury. Catherine spent her last years isolated from public life; they didn't differ greatly from her early years, when she arrived as a young princess, knowing only her Spanish tongue and having not one friend at the English court.
Sor Juana, as she is commonly called, lived from 1651-1695 and was a true genius. The illegitimate child of a Spanish courtesan and a Creole woman, she spent her early years in San Miguel de Nepantla, just outside of Mexico City. At age nine she mastered Latin in twenty lessons. By the age of sixteen, already honored for her intellectual gifts, she was regularly reading to the court from her own works, taking questions from those in attendance. Born Juana Inez de Asbaje y Ramirez de Santillana, she joined a convent after a heart-breaking love affair dissolved. She was a poet, a scholar, a feminist, and was the first important literary figure of the New World. She became known as "The Tenth Muse," "the Phoenix of Mexico, and "the Mexican Nun."
Spanish abbess; flourished from 381-384
Spanish adventurer and soldier. Lived 1585 at least through 1624. Also known as Antonia de Erauso and as Alonzo Dias.
A Mexican-American union organizer who was born in 1930, Huerta has served as vice president and was a founding member of the United Farm Workers of America. For years she was Cesar Chavez's right hand person, and was the first Chicano, and the first woman ever to negotiate a farm labor contract. Her Indian/Mexican father was a mine worker who did farm work during slack periods. Dolores describes her fiercely independent divorced Spanish mother as a "Mexican-American Horatio Alger type" who saved enough money as a cannery worker and waitress to buy a restaurant and small hotel in which she often put up destitute farm workers at no cost. Like all UFW organizers, Dolores learned to live on about five dollars a week, with bare room and board provided wherever she happens to be. She's been living this way since 1962.
Uruguayan poet. Born 1895; death unknown.
A great military leader and heroine of the Spanish Civil War, affectionately known as "La Pasionaria," she lived from 1895 to 1989 and emigrated to Russia after Franco overthrew Spain's democratic republic. There she received the Lenin Peace Prize (1964) and the Order of Lenin (1965). In an interview when she was ninety one, she described herself as "a simple woman... A woman who has fought much and hard to bring socialism to Spain." She was the eighth of eleven children, the granddaughter, daughter, sister and wife of exploited Basque coal miners. Though painfully shy in one-on-one situations, she was a charismatic orator. She had no text and she never used notes; she needed none. During more than one rally at which she spoke, bombs exploded right outside the hall.
Spanish queen of Castile and Leon. Lived 1451-1504. Daughter of John II of Castile and Isabella of Portugal; wife of Ferdinand II, king of Aragon; mother of Catherine of Aragon; also known as Isabella of Spain.
Aztec poet. Lived 1435-1499. Daughter of Tlacaelel (counselor to Itzcoatl).
Born Lucila Godoy Alcayaga in the small Chilean town of Vicuña, of Spanish, Basque and Indian descent, Mistral was the first Latin-American ever to win the Nobel Prize for Literature, in 1945. She was also a cultural minister and diplomat, who served posts in Madrid, Lisbon, Genoa and Nice. An educator who worked untiringly to improve the her country's schools, Mistral's principal themes as a poet were love of children and of the downtrodden. Today there is no country in Latin America that does not have several schools bearing her name, a name the poet assumed, derived from two of her favorite poets: the Italian, Gabriele d'Annunzio and the Frenchman, Frederic Mistral. Her childhood sweetheart was a railway clerk. He committed suicide -- shot himself -- because of a misappropriation of funds. One of her biographers stated, "The echo of that shot was the birth of the poet, Gabriela Mistral." She never married. She died in 1957 in New York City. In her will, Gabriela left her Latin American royalties to the children of her native village of Elqui, in the valley of Montegrande, and asked to be buried there because she hoped that thus the children of this poor and isolated mountain hamlet might never be forgotten by her country.
leading figure in the school of naturalism and an important Spanish novelist, and a noted stateswoman. When her feminist opinions began to manifest themselves, literary critics of the time criticized her harshly. She never yielded to their pressure and maintained the conviction that her own upper social class could be greatly improved. In 1916, five years before her death at the age of sixty-nine, a statue was erected in Pardo-Bazan's honor in La Coruna, the city of her birth.
The Argentinean film and radio actress who married Juan Peron in 1945, became a powerful albeit unofficial political leader who was adored by the poor: she organized female workers, secured women's suffrage, directed government spending on welfare, and introduced compulsory religious education into all Argentinean schools. She was also reviled by her detractors. Evita's pitch to the United States to support her social aid programs raised a million dollars--most of which ended up in a Swiss bank account. She created the Eva Perón Foundation (1948) and formed Peronista Feminist Party in 1949. Born Eva Marie Ibaguren in 1919, her life was cut short by cancer in 1952.
One of the great Catholic mystics--and certainly the outstanding woman of her epoch, between 1562 and 1577 she established and nurtured 17 convents, reformed the Carmelite order, and became co-patron saint of Spain with Saint James (Santiago). She wrote a good deal of poetry on religious themes. Born in Spain in 1515,her name at birth was Teresa de Cepeda & Ahumada, also seen as Theresa. Teresa suffered ill health a great deal and on one occasion was pronounced dead, wax placed on her eyes and her grave prepared. Just when the nuns came for her body, she sat up, asked for food and drink, and began to tell of what she had seen and felt during her trance. Her life was dedicated to good works and the advice she so graciously offered young novitiates did not go unheeded. She died in 1582.
Arabic/Spanish poet, princess. Flourished 1000; died 1035. Also seen as Ouallada. Daughter of Callif al-Mustkfi of Cordova, companion of Ibn Zaidun (court poet).