Academia Brasileira de Letras

Academia Brasileira de Letras (ABL) (Portuguese pronunciation: [akadeˈmiɐ bɾaziˈlejɾɐ dʒi ˈletɾɐs] (listen) English: Brazilian Academy of Letters) is a Brazilian literary non-profit society established at the end of the 19th century by a group of 40 writers and poets inspired by the Académie Française. The first president, Machado de Assis, declared its foundation on December 15, 1896, with the by-laws being passed on January 28, 1897. On July 20 of the same year, the academy started its operation.

According to its statutes, the Brazilian Academy of Letters is charged with the care of the "national language" of Brazil (the Portuguese language) and with the promotion of Brazilian literary arts. The academy is considered the foremost institution devoted to the Portuguese language in Brazil. Its prestige and technical qualification gives it paramount authority in Brazilian Portuguese, even though it's not a public institution and no law grants it oversight over the language. The academy's main publication in this field is the Orthographic Vocabulary of the Portuguese Language (Vocabulário Ortográfico da Língua Portuguesa) which has five editions. The Vocabulary is prepared by the academy's Commission on Lexicology and Lexicography. If a word is not included in the Vocabulary, it is considered not to exist as a correct word in Brazilian Portuguese.

Since its beginning and to this day, the academy is composed of 40 members, known as the "immortals". These members are chosen from among citizens of Brazil who have published works or books with recognized literary value. The position of "immortal" is awarded for the lifetime. New members are admitted by a vote of the academy members when one of the "chairs" become vacant. The chairs are numbered and each has a Patron: the Patrons are 40 great Brazilian writers that were already dead when the academy was founded; the names of the Patrons were chosen by the Founders as to honour them post mortem by assigning patronage over a chair. Thus, each chair is associated with its current holder, her or his predecessor, the original Founder who occupied it in the first place, and also with a Patron.

The academicians use formal gala gilded uniforms with a sword (the uniform is called "fardão") when participating in official meetings at the academy.

Coordinates: 22°54′39″S 43°10′23″W / 22.91083°S 43.17302°W

Academia Brasileira de Letras
ABL logo
MottoAd immortalitatem (To immortality)
Formation20 July 1897
HeadquartersRio de Janeiro, Brazil
40 members
Official language
Geraldo Holanda Cavalcanti
Academia brasileira de letras 2


Lucio de Mendonça (Iconográfico)
Lúcio de Mendonça, founder of the academy.


The initiative to establish the Academy was taken by Lúcio de Mendonça and was realised in preparatory meetings that began on 15 December 1896, under the presidency of Machado de Assis. The statuses of the Brazilian Academy of Letters and the membership of the 40 founding fathers were approved at these meetings, on 28 January 1897. On 20 July of the same year, the inaugural session was held at the Pedagogium's facility in the centre of Rio de Janeiro.

Without appointed headquarters or financial resources, the solemn meetings of the academy were held at the hall of the Royal Portuguese Cabinet of Reading, at the premises of the former National Gymnasium and at the Noble Hall of the Ministry of the Interior. The joint sessions were held at the law firm of Rodrigo Octávio, the Academy's first secretary's, at Quitanda Street, 47.

In 1904, the academy obtained the left wing of the Brazilian Silogeo, a governmental building that housed other cultural institutions. It remained there until moving to its own headquarters in 1923.

Petit Trianon

Academia brasileira de letras 1
The Petit Trianon in Rio de Janeiro, the seat of the academy since 1923.

In 1923, thanks to the initiative of its president at the time, Afrânio Peixoto and of the then-French ambassador, Raymond Conty, the French government donated the French Pavillion building to the Academy. The building had been built for the Independence of Brazil's Centenary International Exposition by the architect Ange-Jacques Gabriel, between 1762 and 1768 and was a replica of the Petit Trianon of Versailles.

These facilities have been inscribed as Brazilian Cultural heritage since 9 November 1987 by the State Institute of Cultural Heritage (INEPAC), of the Municipal Secretary of Culture of Rio de Janeiro. To the present day, its halls continue to host regular meetings, solemn sessions, commemorative meetings and inauguration sessions of the new academics, as well as the traditional Thursdays' tea. They are also open to the public for guided tours or for special cultural programs, such as chamber music concerts, book launches, conference cycles and theatre plays.

In the buildings' first floor hall stands the decorated marble floor, a French crystal chandelier, a large white porcelain vase from Sèvres and four English bas-reliefs. Inside the building, the following premises stand out:

On the second floor, one can find the Sessions Room, the Library the Tea Room. The Tea Room is the academics' meeting point before the Plenary Session, on Thursdays. The Library is used by scholars and researchers and holds a collection of Manuel Bandeira.


Posse de Getúlio Vargas como membro da Academia Brasileira de Letras
The Dictator Getúlio Vargas being invested as member of the academy in 1943.

During periods like the Vargas' totalitarian dictatorship or the Brazilian military government, the academy's neutrality in choosing proper members dedicated to the literary profession was compromised with the election of politicians with few or no contributions to literature, such as ex-president and dictator Getúlio Vargas in 1943.[1] The Academy is also accused of not having defended culture expression and freedom of speech during both Vargas' Era and during the Military dictatorship. Both of these ruling periods imposed heavy censorship on Brazilian culture, including Brazilian literature.[1]


According to its statuses, the Academy aims to promote the "culture of the national language". It comprises 40 effective and perpetual members, known as "immortals". These members are Brazilian citizens with published works of relevant literary value. Besides these members, the Academy also comprises 20 correspondent members.

All members go through a solemn session, in which dress the Academy's official garment for the first time. During the ceremony, the new member makes a speech remembering her or his predecessor and all previous members that occupied the chair.

The Academy, which was a traditionally male institution, elected its first female member on 4 November 1977 - the novelist Rachel de Queiroz. This groundbreaking election of the novelist opened the path for other female members. The academy now accounts for four women members (10% of its total membership), one of which, Nélida Piñon, served as president in 1996–97.


Posse de Fernando Henrique Cardoso na Academia Brasileira de Letras
The writer Fernando Henrique Cardoso, ex-President of Brazil, taking possession as a member of the academy in 2013.

Thanks to revenues over $4 million a year, the academy is financially stable. It owns a skyscraper with 28 floors (Palácio Austregésilo de Athaide) in the centre of Rio, which the academy rents for office space, generating 70% of its current revenue. The rest comes from rental of other buildings, which were inherited from book editor Francisco Alves, in 1917, and from other financial investments. This comfortable situation allows the payment of a "jeton" to each academician.

The academy annually awards several literary prizes:

  • the Prêmio Machado de Assis, the most important literature prize in the country, awarded for lifework;
  • the ABL prizes for poetry, fiction, drama, essays, history of the literature and for children's literature;
  • the José Lins do Rego prize, an extraordinary commemorative prize awarded in 2001
  • the Afonso Arinos prize, an extraordinary commemorative prize awarded in 2005.

The academy also publishes a literary periodical, the Brazilian Review (Revista Brasileira), with quarterly editions.

Orthographic Vocabulary

A Panelinha
Standing: Rodolfo Amoedo, Artur Azevedo, Sousa's English, Bilac, Veríssimo, Bandeira, Filinto de Almeida, Passos, Magalhães, Bernardelli, Rodrigo Octavio, Peixoto; seated: João Ribeiro, Machado, Lúcio de Mendonça and Silva Ramos.

The academy's main publication in this field is the Orthographic Vocabulary of the Portuguese Language (Vocabulário Ortográfico da Língua Portuguesa) of which there are five editions. The Vocabulary is prepared by the academy's Commission on Lexicology and Lexicography. If a word is not included in the Vocabulary, it is considered not to exist as a correct word in Brazilian Portuguese.

The Orthographic Vocabulary, however, is not a dictionary, as it contains words and their grammatical categories, but not the definition or meaning of the words listed. Thus, unlike the French Academy, the Royal Spanish Academy and other foreign institutions dedicated to the care of a national language, the Brazilian Academy of Letters hasn't published an official dictionary. It has, however, published a School Dictionary of the Portuguese Language (Dicionário Escolar da Língua Portuguesa), with students as its target customers, in 2009.

The academy does plan to publish a full and official Dictionary. For the time being, however, other dictionaries such as the Aurélio and the Houaiss remain more prestigious than the School Dictionary, in spite of the fact that the latter is sometimes marketed by booksellers as the "ABL's Dictionary", due to its being authored by the academy. Both the Houaiss and the Aurélio Dictionaries, however, were first compiled by members of the academy Antônio Houaiss and Aurélio Buarque de Holanda Ferreira, respectively. The preparation of an official dictionary of the Portuguese language is a stated goal of the Brazilian Academy of Letters.[2]


Original patrons

  1. Adelino Fontoura
  2. Álvares de Azevedo
  3. Artur de Oliveira
  4. Basílio da Gama
  5. Bernardo Guimarães
  6. Casimiro de Abreu
  7. Castro Alves
  8. Cláudio Manuel da Costa
  9. Gonçalves de Magalhães
  10. Evaristo da Veiga
  11. Fagundes Varela
  12. França Júnior
  13. Francisco Otaviano
  14. Franklin Távora
  15. Gonçalves Dias
  16. Gregório de Matos
  17. Hipólito da Costa
  18. João Francisco Lisboa
  19. Joaquim Caetano da Silva
  20. Joaquim Manuel de Macedo
  21. Joaquim Serra
  22. José Bonifácio the Younger
  23. José de Alencar
  24. Júlio Ribeiro
  25. Junqueira Freire
  26. Laurindo Rabelo
  27. Antônio Peregrino Maciel Monteiro
  28. Manuel Antônio de Almeida
  29. Martins Pena
  30. Pardal Mallet
  31. Pedro Luís Pereira de Sousa
  32. Manuel de Araújo Porto-Alegre
  33. Raul Pompeia
  34. Sousa Caldas
  35. Tavares Bastos
  36. Teófilo Dias
  37. Tomás António Gonzaga
  38. Tobias Barreto
  39. Francisco Adolfo de Varnhagen
  40. José Maria da Silva Paranhos, Sr.


  1. Alexandre de Gusmão
  2. António José da Silva
  3. Manuel Botelho de Oliveira
  4. Eusébio de Matos
  5. Francisco de Sousa
  6. Matias Aires
  7. Nuno Marques Pereira
  8. Sebastião da Rocha Pita
  9. Santa Rita Durão
  10. Vicente do Salvador
  11. Alexandre Rodrigues Ferreira
  12. Antônio de Morais Silva
  13. Domingos Borges de Barros
  14. Francisco do Monte Alverne
  15. Joaquim Gonçalves Ledo
  16. José Bonifácio de Andrada e Silva
  17. Odorico Mendes
  18. Manuel Inácio da Silva Alvarenga
  19. Sotero dos Reis
  20. José da Silva Lisboa


  1. Joaquim Maria Machado de Assis 1897–1908
  2. Ruy Barbosa 1908–1919
  3. Domício da Gama 1919
  4. Carlos de Laet 1919–1922
  5. Afrânio Peixoto 1922–1923
  6. Medeiros e Albuquerque 1923
  7. Afrânio Peixoto 1923–1924
  8. Afonso Celso 1925
  9. Coelho Neto 1926
  10. Rodrigo Otávio 1927
  11. Augusto de Lima 1928
  12. Fernando Magalhães 1929
  13. Aloisio de Castro 1930
  14. Fernando Magalhães 1931–1932
  15. Gustavo Barroso 1932–1933
  16. Ramiz Galvão 1933–1934
  17. Afonso Celso 1935
  18. Laudelino Freire 1936
  19. Ataulfo de Paiva 1937
  20. Cláudio de Souza 1938
  21. Antônio Austregésilo 1939
  22. Celso Vieira 1940
  23. Levi Carneiro 1941
  24. Macedo Sorares 1942–1943
  25. Múcio Leão 1944
  26. Pedro Calmon 1945
  27. Cláudio de Sousa 1946
  28. João Neves da Fontoura 1947
  29. Adelmar Tavares 1948
  30. Miguel Osório de Almeida 1949
  31. Gustavo Barroso 1950-1950
  32. Aloisio de Castro 1951
  33. Aníbal Freire da Fonseca 1952
  34. Barbosa Lima Sobrinho 1953–1954
  35. Rodrigo Otávio Filho 1955
  36. Peregrino Júnior 1956–1957
  37. Elmano Cardim 1958
  38. Austregésilo de Athayde 1959–1993
  39. Abgar Renault 1993
  40. Josué Montello 1993–1995
  41. Antônio Houaiss 1995–1996
  42. Nélida Piñon 1996–1997
  43. Arnaldo Niskier 1997–1999
  44. Tarcísio Padilha 2000–2002
  45. Alberto da Costa e Silva 2002–2004
  46. Ivan Junqueira 2004–2005
  47. Marcos Vinícios Rodrigues Vilaça 2006–2007
  48. Cícero Sandroni 2008

Current members

The members of the Brazilian Academy of Letters (October 2014):[3]

  1. Affonso Arinos de Mello Franco
  2. Alberto da Costa e Silva
  3. Alberto Venancio Filho
  4. Alfredo Bosi
  5. Ana Maria Machado
  6. Antonio Carlos Secchin
  7. Antônio Torres
  8. Arnaldo Niskier
  9. Candido Mendes de Almeida
  10. Carlos Heitor Cony
  11. Carlos Nejar
  12. Celso Lafer
  13. Cícero Sandroni
  14. Cleonice Berardinelli
  15. Domício Proença Filho
  16. Eduardo Portella
  17. Evaldo Cabral de Mello
  18. Evanildo Bechara
  19. Evaristo de Moraes Filho
  20. Fernando Henrique Cardoso
  21. Ferreira Gullar
  22. Geraldo Holanda Cavalcanti
  23. Helio Jaguaribe
  24. Ivo Pitanguy
  25. José Murilo de Carvalho
  26. José Sarney
  27. Luiz Paulo Horta
  28. Lygia Fagundes Telles
  29. Marco Lucchesi
  30. Marco Maciel
  31. Marcos Vinicios Rodrigues Vilaça
  32. Merval Pereira
  33. Murilo Melo Filho
  34. Nélida Piñon
  35. Nelson Pereira dos Santos
  36. Paulo Coelho
  37. Rosiska Darcy de Oliveira
  38. Sábato Magaldi
  39. Sergio Paulo Rouanet
  40. Tarcísio Padilha
  41. Edmar Bacha (joined in 2017)[4]

Gallery of the Immortals

See also


  1. ^ a b JORGE, Fernando. A Academia do Fardão e da Confusão: a Academia Brasileira de Letras e os seus 'Imortais' mortais. São Paulo: Geração Editorial, 1999.
  2. ^ "Língua portuguesa | Academia Brasileira de Letras" (in Portuguese). Retrieved 2015-08-01.
  3. ^ "Membros | Academia Brasileira de Letras" (in Portuguese). Retrieved 2015-08-01.
  4. ^ "A Brazilian inflation fighter becomes immortal". The Economist. 12 April 2017. Retrieved 14 April 2017.

External links

1936 in Brazil

Events in the year 1936 in Brazil.

Academia Pernambucana de Letras

The Academia Pernambucana de Letras (Pernambuco Academy of Letters) is a Brazilian literary society established in the manner of the Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres, on January 26, 1901, in Recife by Carneiro Vilela and other writers from the state of Pernambuco, with a total of 20 seats. One of the first letters academies of Brazil, being surpassed only by Academia Cearense de Letras, by Academia Brasileira de Letras and Academia Paraense de Letras.

Adelmar Tavares

Adelmar Tavares da Silva (Recife, February 16, 1888 – June 20, 1963 Rio de Janeiro) was a lawyer, magistrate, jurist, professor and poet from Recife. He was a member of Brazilian Societies devoted to criminology and law. As a poet he was respected with several of his poems becoming songs. In 1948 he became President of the Academia Brasileira de Letras.

Adonias Filho

Adonias Aguiar Filho (November 27, 1915 – August 2, 1990) was a novelist, essayist, journalist, and literary critic from Bahia, Brazil, and a member of the Academia Brasileira de Letras.

Alfredo Bosi

Alfredo Bosi (São Paulo, August 23, 1936) is a Brazilian historian, literary critic, and professor. He is member of the Academia Brasileira de Letras (Brazilian Academy of Letters), occupying Chair number 12. One of his most famous books is "História Concisa da Literatura Brasileira" (Brief History of Brazilian Literature), widely used in Brazilian universities in literature courses. Bosi also wrote several studies about Italian literature and about major Brazilian writers as well as essays on the field of hermeneutics.

Antônio Austregésilo

Antônio Austregésilo (April 21, 1876 – December 23, 1960), was a Brazilian neurologist important to the history of the field in his nation.

Austregésilo was born in Pernambuco. He helped build the first neurological school in Rio de Janeiro. He was a member of the Academia Brasileira de Letras and a President of the Academia Nacional de Medicina.

Aníbal Machado

Aníbal Machado (December 9, 1894 – 1964) was a Brazilian writer born in Sabará, Minas Gerais. He had been the president of the Brazilian Association of Writers and received numerous awards for his novels. He was also honored by the Academia Brasileira de Letras. He is the father of playwright Maria Clara Machado.

Austregésilo de Athayde

Austregésilo de Athayde (September 25, 1898 – September 13, 1993, age 94) was a writer and journalist born in Caruaru, Pernambuco, Brazil. His career includes being invited by Assis Chateaubriand to work at a top position at the Diários Associados. Later he became an emblematic figure for the Academia Brasileira de Letras as he served as President of the organization for 34 years.

He was active in human rights causes in Brazil. Austregésilo de Athayde died on September 13, 1993 in Rio de Janeiro at age 94.

Carlos Castello Branco

Carlos Castello Branco (Teresina, June 25, 1920 – Rio de Janeiro, June 1, 1993) was a Brazilian journalist and writer. He was a member of the Academia Brasileira de Letras and of the Academia Piauiense de Letras. The column that he maintained in the Jornal do Brasil is a landmark of political journalism. His collected papers are kept in the Archive-Museum of Brazilian Literature, part of the Fundação Casa de Rui Barbosa.

Carlos Heitor Cony

Carlos Heitor Cony (March 14, 1926 – January 5, 2018) was a Brazilian journalist and writer. He was a member of the Brazilian Academy of Letters (Portuguese: Academia Brasileira de Letras).Cony viewed himself as center-leftist and faced persecution under the military government in the 1960s. Four of his works were adapted to movies. He was a columnist at the Brazilian newspaper Folha de S.Paulo.

Colégio Marista Dom Silvério

Colégio Marista Dom Silvério, or CMDS, is a private Marist school located on the southern region of Belo Horizonte, in Brazil. Its courses go from pre-school to highscool, which in the Brazilian educational system is usually identified with ages from 4 to 17.

CMDS was founded in 1950, and hosts more than 3,000 students. Part of the school's finances were used for the seven-year-long construction of Marista Hall.

The school is named after Dom Silvério Gomes Pimenta, a Catholic priest of the early twentieth century who was a member of the Academia Brasileira de Letras, the Brazilian Academy of Literature.

The current principal of CMDS is Professor Edison de Souza Leite.

Edgar Roquette-Pinto

Edgar Roquette-Pinto (September 25, 1884 – October 18, 1954) was a Brazilian writer, ethnologist, anthropologist and physician. He was a member of the Academia Brasileira de Letras and is regarded as the father of radio broadcasting in Brazil.

Fernando Bastos de Ávila

Fernando Bastos de Ávila (March 17, 1918 – November 6, 2010) was a Brazilian Roman Catholic priest. A member of the Society of Jesus, de Ávila was a member of the Academia Brasileira de Letras and vice-chancellor of Pontificía Universidade Católica.

Humberto de Campos (journalist)

Humberto de Campos Veras (Miritiba, October 25, 1886 — Rio de Janeiro, December 5, 1934) was a Brazilian journalist, politician and writer.

Júlio Afrânio Peixoto

Dr. Júlio Afrânio Peixoto (December 17, 1876 – January 12, 1947) was a Brazilian physician, writer, politician, historian, university president, and pioneering eugenicist. He held many public offices, including Brazilian congressional representative from Bahia in the federal Câmara de Deputados (federal congressman) (1924–1930), first the president of the Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro, member of the Brazil-United States Cultural Institute, president of the Academia Brasileira de Letras, and honorary doctorates from Coimbra University and the University of Lisbon, Portugal.

Luís Caetano Pereira Guimarães Júnior

Luís Caetano Pereira Guimarães Júnior (Rio de Janeiro, 17 February 1845 – Lisbon, 20 May 1898) was a Brazilian diplomat, poet, novelist and dramaturgist.

He was bachelor in the Faculdade de Direito do Recife in 1869, in the same class of the writer Araripe Júnior. His works switched from Romanticism to Parnasianism.

As a diplomat, he lived in Santiago de Chile, Roma and Lisbon, where he finally stayed and he met intellectuals such as Eça de Queiroz, Ramalho Ortigão, Guerra Junqueiro or Fialho de Almeida. He was a member and one of the founders of Academia Brasileira de Letras.

Oliveira Viana

Francisco José de Oliveira Viana (June 20, 1883 – March 28, 1951) was a Brazilian professor, jurist, historian, sociologist, and an imortal of the Academia Brasileira de Letras.

Vítor Viana

Vítor Viana (Rio de Janeiro, 23 December 1881 — Rio de Janeiro, 21 August 1937) was a Brazilian journalist, lawyer and historian. He was an advocate of "modern democracy" and member of the Academia Brasileira de Letras from 1935.

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