Ariano Suassuna was born in the city of João Pessoa, Paraíba, on 16 June 1927, to João Urbano Pessoa de Vasconcelos Suassuna and Rita de Cássia Dantas Villar.
His initial schooling was in the town of Taperoá, Paraíba. In 1942, the Suassuna family moved to Recife and Ariano went to study at the Ginásio Pernambucano and later at Colégio Oswaldo Cruz.
In 1946, he entered the Faculdade de Direito do Recife (Recife Law Faculty), where he met a group of writers, actors, poets, novelists and people interested in art and literature, among them Hermilo Borba Filho, with whom Ariano founded the Teatro de Estudantes de Pernambuco (Pernambuco Students’ Theatre)
He completed his bachelor of Judicial and Social Sciences in 1950.
In 1947, he wrote his first theatrical play, Uma mulher vestida de sol (A Woman Clothed in Sunshine), based on the popular stories of Northeast Brazil, with which he won the Nicolau Carlos Magno Prize, in 1948.
On 19 January 1957, he married Zélia de Andrade Lima, with whom he had six children: Joaquim, Maria, Manoel, Isabel, Mariana e Ana.
He was a founding member of the Federal Council of Culture, on which he stood from 1967 to 1973, and the Pernambuco State Cultural Advisory Board, from 1968 to 1972.
He was appointed, in 1969, Director of the Department of Cultural Extension at the Federal University of Pernambuco (UFPE), holding the post until 1974. On 18 October 1970 he launched the Movimento Armorial (Armorial Moviment), with the concert Três séculos de música nordestina: do barroco ao armorial (Three Centuries of Northeast Music: from Baroque to Armorial), at São Pedro dos Clérigo Church and an engraving, painting and sculpture exhibition.
From 1975 to 1978 he was the Secretary of Education and Culture of Recife. He completed a doctorate in history at the Federal University of Pernambuco in 1976. He was a professor at UFPE for 32 years where he taught Aesthetics and Theory of Theatre, Brazilian Literature and History of Brazilian Culture.
In August 1989, he was unanimously elected to the Brazilian Academy of Letters, taking possession of chair number 32, which had belonged to the writer Genolino Amado, in 1990. Dramatist, novelist, poet, essayist, untiring defender of popular culture, of Brazilian, and especially northeast Brazilian, heritage and author of many works:
Uma mulher vestida de sol (A Woman Clothed in Sunshine) (1947): O desertor de Princesa (The Princess’ Deserter) (1948); Os homens de barro (The Clay Men) (1949, unfinished); Auto de João da Cruz (Auto of John of the Cross) (1949); O arco desabado (The Desolate Arch) (1952); Auto da Compadecida (Auto of Our Lady of Mercy) (1955); O santo e a porca (The Saint and the Sow) (1957); O casamento suspeitoso (The Suspect Marriage) (1957); A pena e a lei (Punishment and the Law) (1959); Farsa da boa preguiça (The Farce of Happy Indolence) (1960); A caseira e a Catarina (The Housekeeper and Catherine) (1962); Romance d’a pedra do reino e o príncipe de sangue do vai-e-volta (The Romance of the Kingdom’s Stone) (1971, translated into English, German, French, Spanish, Polish and Dutch).
Recife, 1 July 2003.
(Updated on 20 August 2009).
Translated by Peter Leamy, February 2011.
MEMORIAL do imperador d'A pedra do reino. Jornal do Commercio, Recife, 15 jun. 1997. Especial, p. 2.
ARIANO Suassuna. [Foto neste texto]. Disponível em: <http://fernandajimenez.com/tag/ariano-suassuna/>. Aceso em: 4 jun. 2012.
SOUTO MAIOR, Mário. Dicionário de folcloristas brasileiros. Recife: 10-10 Comunicação e Editora, 1999. p. 31.
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Source: GASPAR, Lúcia. Ariano Suassuna. Pesquisa Escolar On-Line, Joaquim Nabuco Foundation, Recife. Available at: <http://basilio.fundaj.gov.br/pesquisaescolar/>. Accessed: day month year. Exemple: 6 Aug. 2009.