Joaquim Maria Carneiro Vilella was born on 9 April 1846, in the São José neighbourhood, in Recife.
He was the son of Joaquim Vilella de Castro Tavares, general and provincial sheriff, officer of the Ordem da Rosa (Order of the Rose) and president of the Associação Acadêmica Atheneu Pernambucano (Pernambuco Athenian Academic Association), and Maria Magdalena Carneiro Rios, daughter of lieutenant-colonel of the National Guard, Francisco Carneiro Machado Rios.
He married Margarida Iria Bruno on 7 October 1865, at Solar do Sítio Piranga, located in the area known nowadays as the neighbourhood of Afogados, and they had six children.
He studied at Colégio Bemfica, the name of the area where the establishment was located, (today Paissandu), preparing himself for the Law. In 1862, he enrolled in the Law Course at the Recife Faculty of Law, finishing in 1866.
Carneiro Vilella was a novelist, poet, playwright, caricaturist, landscaper and set designer. From an early age he showed literary and artistic aptitude. He was a much politicised man and, on many occasions, proving to be a staunch abolitionist. An example of this was when his mother died he granted freedom to all the slaves he had inherited.
He was a man who was very interested in the political developments of Brazil and, as often as possible, attended the sessions of the Pernambuco Legislative Assembly to listen to the debates and to elaborate on them in his newspaper articles.
He was part of the Escola do Recife (Recife School) movement that appeared in 1870, and which brought revolutionary ideas in philosophy, law and literature.
He held the position of Municipal Judge in the city of Natal, Rio Grande do Norte (1866), was Section Head of the Secretary of the State of Pará (1878) and Substitute Judge of Niterói, Rio de Janeiro (1879).
He founded the Jornal Oriente (Eastern Journal) (RN, 1866), of Masonic propaganda, A América Ilustrada (The Illustrated America) (1871), along with José Caetano da Silva – which had the moral duty to alert the readers to the excesses that happened in Pernambuco –, and the Jornal da Tarde (Evening Journal) (PE, 1875), the first evening newspaper in Recife. It was the América Ilustrada that published his first novel in series: Noivados originais – histórias históricas (Original Engagements – Historical Stories), and others like: O esqueleto (The Skeleton), A menina de luto (The Girl in Sorrow), Inah-história de três dias (Inah – Story of Three Days). On 26 January 1901, he founded, alongside Arthur Orlando, Carlos Porto Carreiro, Alfredo de Carvalho and others, the Pernambuco Academy of Letters, occupying the 8th chair, sponsored by Joaquim Vilella, his father.
Carneiro Vilella created, with Antonio Morais, on 11 July 1886, the humorous caricature magazine O João Fernandes, whose mission was “to routinely break with the rules and open new horizons for laughter and critique”. In it, Carneiro Vilela appeared as an illustrator, writer of epigrams and writer.
He wrote for many of Recife’s newspapers, such as Jornal Pequeno, Jornal do Recife, Correio do Recife, A Província, Diario de Pernambuco. It was in Jornal Pequeno that, between 1909 and 1912, he wrote his most famous novel A emparedada da rua Nova (The Bricked-in Prisoner of Nova St.).
Carneiro Vilella died on 1 July 1913, aged 67, at Sítio Piranga, on Rua São Miguel, in the neighbourhood of Afogados, from the after-effects of a stroke.
Recife, 23 February 2006.
(Updated on 14 September 2009).
Translated by Peter Leamy, January 2011.
LIMA, Fátima Maria Batista de. Um olhar sobre a cidade n’A emparedada da rua Nova, de Carneiro Vilella. 2005. 121 f. Dissertação (Mestrado em Letras e Lingüística) – Centro de Artes e Comunicação, Universidade Federal de Pernambuco, Recife, 2005.
VILELLA, Carmélio dos Santos. Carneiro Vilella: nascimento, vida e morte. Recife: Ed. do Autor, 2005.
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Source: BARBOSA, Virgínia. Carneiro Vilella. Pesquisa Escolar On-Line, Joaquim Nabuco Foundation, Recife. Available at: <http://basilio.fundaj.gov.br/pesquisaescolar>. Accessed: day month year. Exemple: 6 Aug. 2009.