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Nísia Floresta

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Feminist, educator, writer and poet

Nísia Floresta

Article available in: PT-BR ESP

Last update: 01/10/2015

By: Lúcia Gaspar - Librarian of the Fundação Joaquim Nabuco

Pioneer of Brazilian feminism, educator, writer and poet, Dionísia Pinto Lisboa, who adopted the pseudonym of Nísia Floresta Brasileira Augusta, was born on 12 October 1809, in Papari, today the municipality of Nísia Floresta, Rio Grande do Norte, to Dionísio Pinto Lisboa and Antônia Clara Filha.

She was married at the age of 14, against her will, to Manuel Alexandre Seabra de Melo, but left him in 1824, following her parents who moved to Pernambuco because of the existing political persecution in Rio Grande do Norte.

She lived in Goiana, Recife and Olinda, where she met her second husband, the Law graduate Manuel Augusto de Faria Rocha, with whom she had two children, and was widowed at the age of 23.

She established colleges for girls in Recife, Porto Alegre and Rio de Janeiro. At Colégio Brasil, which she founded in Rio de Janeiro, she was the teacher for almost all the subjects.

Besides her educational activities, she wrote for various press organisations like Jornal do Brasil, Correio Mercantil, Diário do Rio de Janeiro and Brasil Ilustrado.

She was a staunch fighter for the rights of women, Indians and slaves. Her main focus, however, was always the education of women and their participation in society.

Searching for new horizons, she travelled several times to Europe, where she lived for approximately 28 years and where she met and lived with great writers and intellectuals, such as Almeida Garret, Alexandre Herculano, Alexandre Dumas (Sr), Victor Hugo and Auguste Comte, of whom she was a friend and great admirer.

She travelled in Portugal, Germany, Greece, and England, lived for three years in Italy (Rome and Florence) and set up residence in France.

Aged 22, she published the book Direitos das mulheres e injustiça dos homens (Rights of Women and Injustice of Men), whose first edition was released in Recife in 1832. She also wrote: Conselhos à minha filha (Advice to My Daughter) (1842), Pensamentos (Thoughts) (1845), Daciz ou a jovem completa (Daciz or a Complete Youth) (1847), A lágrima de um caeté (The Tears of a Caeté)  (1849), Opúsculo humanitário (Humanitarian Paperback) (1855), Itineraire d´um voyage em Allemagne (Itinerary of a Trip in Germany) (1857), Scientille d`uma anima brasiliana (1859), Trois années em Italie (Three Years in Italy) (1861) and Abismos sobre flores (Abysses Over Flowers) (1864).

Nísia Floresta died in Rouen, France, on 24 April 1885. Her mortal remains were transported to Rio Grande do Norte in 1954. They are today in the mausoleum that was erected in her honour in the city where she was born and which bears her name.

Recife, 22 March 2004.
(Updated on 31 August 2009).
Translated by Peter Leamy, March 2011.

sources consulted

BRITO, Fernanda. Nísia Floresta. In: MULHERES do Brasil: pensamento e ação. Fortaleza: Ed. Henriqueta Galeno, 1971. v.1, p.102-114

LIMA, Diógenes da Cunha. Nísia Floresta, a brasileira Augusta (1809-1885). In: _____. Natal: biografia de uma cidade. Rio de Janeiro: Lidador, 1999. p.228-229.

how to quote this text

Source: GASPAR, Lúcia. Nísia Floresta. Pesquisa Escolar On-Line, Joaquim Nabuco Foundation, Recife. Available at:  <>. Accessed: day month year. Exemple: 6 Aug. 2009.