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Heloneida Studart

Date Born.:

Writer, Journalist, Politician

Sciences social

Heloneida Studart

Article available in: PT-BR

Last update: 10/01/2017

By: Semira Adler Vainsencher - N/I

Heloneida Studart was born in Fortaleza, Ceará, on 9 April 1932. Her parents were Edite Studart and Vicente Soares. She was a descendant of the historian Baron of Studart on her maternal side, and the abolitionist leader and famous geographer Antonio Bezerra de Menezes on her paternal side. At nine, studying at a college run by Catholic nuns – the Imaculada Conceição de Fortaleza – she would write a children’s story entitled A Menina Que fugiu do Frio [The Girl Who Fled from the Cold]. From there, she began saying that she would be a writer in the future.

At the age of sixteen, Heloneida moved to Rio de Janeiro, making her debut as a columnist in the newspaper O Nordeste, where her opinions were already causing controversy at the time. From Fortaleza, she brought the drafts of her novel A primeira pedra [The First Stone], to be published in Sao Paulo in 1953 by Editora Saraiva. Four years later, the novel Dize-me o teu nome [Tell Me Your Name] would come, which was awarded by the Brazilian Academy of Letters and given the Orlando Dantas prize from the newspaper Diário de Notícias. In 1960, she went to work at the Correio da Manhã newspaper, and worked in journalism for several decades, despite having a degree in Social Sciences from the University of Brazil in Rio de Janeiro. Subsequently, she worked for ten years as editor of Manchete magazine.

Heloneida became involved with popular struggles and was elected president of the Cultural Entities Union (SENAMBRA) in 1966. However, Heloneida was removed from office for opposing the military dictatorship and arrested in March 1969. From São Judas Tadeu Prison would come the scripts of her future works Quero meu filho [I Want My Son] and Não roubarás [Thou Shalt Not Steal]. In the midst of this repressive environment, no one would have imagined that in years to come, these works would be screened on TV Globo with success.

With the end of the military regime, three new novels appeared, dubbed by the author herself the Trilogia da tortura [Trilogy of Torture]: O pardal é um pássaro azul [The Sparrow is a Blue Bird] (which has already been translated in four languages); O estandarte da agonia [The Banner of Agony] (inspired by the life of her friend Zuzu Angel); and O torturador em romaria [The Torturer on Pilgrimage].

The journalist wrote about the female condition at the invitation of Editora Vozes, publishing the essays Mulher objeto de cama e mesa [Woman: object of bed and table], which sold 280,000 copies and became a sort of bible for Brazilian feminism; and Mulher, a quem pertence seu corpo? [Woman, to whom does your body belong?] These two works are in their 27th and 6th editions respectively.

With 60,000 votes in 1978, Heloneida would be elected state representative for Rio de Janeiro with the Brazilian Democratic Movement Party (PMDB). She was reelected in 1982, again with the PMDB, and was also deputy party leader from 1979 to 1988, when she left the Party, and participated in the founding of the Brazilian Social Democracy Party (PSDB). The following year, she left the PSDB and joined the Workers’ Party (PT).

Among others, Heloneida has held several important positions: she was vice-president of the Parliamentary Commission on Environment Control from 1979 to 1980; president of the Legislative Assembly of the State of Rio de Janeiro (ALERJ) from 1981 to 1982; a member of the special commissions on women’s rights with regard to reproductive rights; participated in the inquiry into the state of this area’s service to the population; in her third term as representative, she acted as deputy leader of the PT bench; and from 1995 to 1999, she chaired a special commission to investigate ways of collecting and distributing copyrights in Rio de Janeiro. In addition, she founded two important institutions, with several feminist partners: the Brazilian Women’s Centre, the first feminist entity in the country; and the State Centre for Women’s Rights (CEDIM); and is chairman of the Permanent Commission for the Defence of Human Rights.

In the Assembly, in the midst of her legislative tasks, the representative/writer also implemented the Libertas quae sera tamen [Freedom although late] cultural project, containing three plays that explained some of the liberation struggles of the Brazilian people: Tiradentes, the Zé de Vila Rica; Bárbara do Crato and Frei Caneca. Its target audience consisted of public school students, and most of the interpreters were teenagers living in slums. These plays, which were directed by Wilma Dulcetti, ran for four years. With the change of presidency of the Assembly, however, the project was suspended.

She was also the author of the play Homem Não Entra [No Men Allowed], which ran for five years and represented a landmark of 1970s Brazilian theatre, defending themes related to the advancement and promotion of women.
The journalist also published other relevant works: A Culpa [The Guilty]; China, O Nordeste que deu certo [The Northeast That Worked]; A deusa do rádio e outros deuses [The Goddess of the Radio and Other Gods]; and Deus não paga em dólar [God Doesn’t Pay in Dollars]. The latter was considered as a landmark in Brazilian literature.

Heloneida Studart is the mother of six children (all male), her temperament is cheerful and she has very simple habits. With several state representative mandates, she passed many laws that have benefited women and workers, always defending democracy and social justice. The multipurpose professional was also known for her participation in TV debates (such as TV Educativa’s “Sem Censura” [No Censorship], where she worked for two years), radio programs and the publication of articles in Rio’s main newspapers.

In the book Mulheres brasileiras [Brazilian Women], by Editora Record, Heloneida Studart was nominated as one of the 100 most important Brazilian women of the 20th century. Most recently, the Swiss Women’s Foundation chose 1,000 women to run for the Nobel Peace Prize. Of these, 52 were Brazilian, and the journalist from Ceará was among them.

Translated by Peter Leamy, November 2016.



sources consulted

HELONEIDA Studart. Disponível em: <>.   Acesso em: 20 mar. 2005.

HELONEIDA Studart. Disponível em: <>.  Acesso em: 15 mar. 2006.

HELONEIDA Studart. Disponível em: <>. Acesso em: 15 mar. 2006.

HELONEIDA Studart. Disponível em: <>. Acesso em: 15 mar. 2006.

LEI de Heloneida Studart garante cirurgia de mama na rede pública. Disponível em:<>. Acesso em: 20 mar. 2005

SCHUMAHER, Erico Vital Brazil (Org.). Dicionário mulheres do Brasil: de 1500 até a atualidade. Rio de Janeiro: Zahar, 2000.

VIVER sem violência é direito da mulher. Disponível em: <>   Acesso em: 20 mar. 2005.

how to quote this text

Source: VAINSENCHER, Semira Adler. Heloneida Stuart. Pesquisa Escolar Online, Fundação Joaquim Nabuco, Recife. Disponível em: <>. Acesso em: dia  mês ano. Ex: 6 ago. 2009.