Who was Florbela?
Florbela d’Alma da Conceição Espanca, better known as Florbela Espanca, was a Portuguese writer and poet. Besides being considered the great female figure of Portuguese literature of her time, she was also one of the first feminists in Portugal.
Known mainly for her sonnets, Florbela Espanca started writing poems when she was only 8 years old, and since then she has always written about love (and unlove), suffering, longing and loneliness. Orphaned at the age of 13, divorced twice and the victim of an abortion, her life was tumultuous, restless and full of suffering, which served as inspiration for her poetry.
She enrolled in the Faculty of Law at the University of Lisbon, being one of the few women among hundreds of students enrolled. Her first work, Livro de Mágoas (ENG: Book of Sorrows), was a success, selling out quickly.
After the death of her brother in a car accident, Florbela tried to commit suicide several times. Her despair worsened after she was diagnosed with pulmonary edema, dying on her 36th birthday from an overdose.
Besides our Florbela Pâtisserie, the poetess has several tributes. In Matosinhos, Porto, the city where Florbela lived, she was honoured with a library, which they named after her. In 1949, Lisbon City Council honoured the poet by naming a street after her in Alvalade. In addition, her verses have influenced several poets, some paying homage to her in their own works. Fernando Pessoa described her as a “dreamer soul/Sister twin of mine!”.
Some of her main works are:
• Livro de Mágoas (ENG: Book of Sorrows) (1919);
• Charneca em flor (ENG: Flowering heath) (1930);
• Complete sonnets (1934).
“One loves whom one loves and not whom one wants to love.”