Mário Carneiro do Rego Mello was born on 5 February 1884, in the main house on the Barbalho plantation, in the Iputinga neighbourhood of Recife, to the Federal Judge Manuel do Rego Mello and Maria da Conceição Carneiro da Cunha do Rego Mello, familiarly known as Ciçone.
He completed his primary education in Campina Grande, Paraíba and Paudalho, Pernambuco, where his father served as judge, and secondary education at Colégio Salesiano and Ginásio Pernambucano, in Recife.
He began working as a telegraphist at the Pernambuco Department of Mail, being transferred firstly to Ceará, then Pará and finally to Rio de Janeiro, where he became the private secretary of José Mariano.
In 1907, in the city of Gravatá, Pernambuco, he married Adalgisa Cruz Ribeiro, with whom he had ten children, graduating the same year from the Recife Faculty of Law in the class of Augusto dos Anjos.
He became a Mason, having been Grand-Master of the Seis de Março Lodge.
He began working in the press at the newspaper O Álbum, which he owned, later becoming one of the most active Brazilian journalists. He worked for the newspapers Folha do Povo, O País, Gazeta da Tarde (Rio de Janeiro), Estado de S. Paulo, Correio do Recife, Jornal Pequeno, Pernambuco, Diario de Pernambuco and Jornal do Commercio (Recife).
Besides being a journalist, he was also a historian, geographer, philatelist, numismatist and musician. He was an expert violinist and great pianist. He composed various pieces of music, among them the ‘dobrado’ Tiro 333.
He was a member of various historical, geographical and cultural organisations, such as the Pernambuco Archaeologic, Historic and Geographic Institute, of which he was a member for 50 years and perpetual secretary; the Pernambuco Academy of Letters, the National Geographic Society of Washington, United States, and of Lisbon, Portugal; The Brazilian Historic and Geographic Institute; the National Commission of Folklore, and others.
He founded the Pernambuco Press Association (1931) together with Salvador Nigro and others.
He was appointed as a member of the Administrative Council by the intervener Agamenon Magalhães in 1938, remaining in the role until 1945.
As a politician, he was elected State congressman for Pernambuco with the Social Democratic Party (1948-1950).
He was a great champion of the things of his land, loving and defending folklore, carnival, ‘frevo’ and its traditions.
Above all, he was a chronicler of the daily life in Recife. He practiced indigenous customs like sleeping in a hammock, drinking guarana and smoking a pipe.
He spoke his mind, “without sparing his tongue” and because of this he made several enemies. He was almost stabbed and killed on a train from Caxangá.
He lived for a long time at 292 Santo Helias St, in the Espinheiro neighbourhood, where he died in the early hours of 24 May 1959. His funeral had a strong public turnout.
He published over 50 books, among which the following stand out:
A Maçonaria no Brasil (Freemasonry in Brazil) (1909);
A Maçonaria e a Revolução de 1817 (Freemasonry and the 1817 Revolution) (1912);
Arquipélago de Fernando de Noronha (The Archipelago of Fernando de Noronha) (1916);
Pau d’Alho: monografia histórico-geográfica (Pau d’Alho: Histo-Geographic Monography) (1918);
A imprensa pernambucana em 1918 (The Pernambuco Press in 1918) (1918);
Rios de Pernambuco (Rivers of Pernambuco) (1919);
Ruas do Recife (Streets of Recife) (1920);
Oliveira Lima íntimo (Oliveira Lima Intimately) (1920);
História da Loja Maçônica Seis de Março de 1817 (History of the March 6 Masonic Lodge) (1921);
Corografia de Pernambuco (Chorography of Pernambuco) (1921);
Esboço da literatura pernambucana (Outline of Pernambuco Literature) (1922);
Os Carnijós das Águas-Belas (1929);
Toponímia pernambucana (Pernambuco Toponymy) (1931);
Dentro da história (Inside History) (1931); Frei Caneca (1933);
Aspectos da história (Aspects of History) (1935);
Elementos da história do Brasil (Elements of the History of Brazil) (1936);
Aspectos de etnografia brasílica (Aspects of Brazilian Ethnography) (1938);
Como vi Portugal (How I Saw Portugal) (1938);
A Guerra dos Mascates (War of the Peddlers) (1941);
Síntese cronológica de Pernambuco (Chronological Synthesis of Pernambuco) (1943);
Onomástica pernambucana (Pernambuco Onomastics) (1944);
Relances da história (Glimpses of History) (1956).
Recife, 18 July 2003.
(Updated on 16 September 2009.)
Translated by Peter Leamy, February 2011.
MELLO, Mário. A Guerra dos Mascates como afirmação nacionalista. Recife: Arquivo Público Estadual, 1984.
SILVA, Jorge Fernandes da. Vidas que não morrem. Recife: Departamento de Cultura, 1982. p.235-236.
SOUTO MAIOR, Mário; VALENTE, Waldemar. Antologia pernambucana de folclore. Recife: Fundaj, Ed. Massangana, 1988. p. 178.
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Source: GASPAR, Lúcia. Mário Melo. Pesquisa Escolar On-Line, Joaquim Nabuco Foundation, Recife. Available at: <http://basilio.fundaj.gov.br/pesquisaescolar/>. Accessed: day month year. Exemple: 6 Aug. 2009.