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Osman Lins

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Osman Lins

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Last update: 27/07/2017

By: Virginia Barbosa - Librarian of the Fundação Joaquim Nabuco

The Pernambuco writer Osman da Costa Lins, son of Teófanes da Costa Lins and Maria da Paz de Mello Lins, was born in the city of Vitória de Santo Antão on 5 July 1924. His mother died from complications of the birth when Osman was only 16 days old. With the loss of his mother, Osman went to live with his closest relations: Joana Carolina, his paternal grandmother, and his aunt Laura and her husband Antonio Figueiredo, a businessman, from whom Osman heard stories that sparked his taste for narration. The incentive to write came from his tutor at the Ginásio de Vitória, José Aragão. They all had an important role in the formation of the illustrious writer and of some of the characters of his works.

From 1932 to 1940, he completed his primary studies at Colégio Santo Antão and Ginásio de Vitória. Part of this period was dedicated to typing, which helped him immensely in his first job in 1941, as a clerk at the Ginásio do Recife, the city to where he had moved because it offered more study possibilities. In the same year, his first fiction pieces appeared in the city’s newspaper supplements: Menino mau (Bad Boy) and Fantasmas (Ghosts).

Through a public contest, he joined the Banco do Brasil (Bank of Brazil) (1943). From 1944 to 1946, he did the Finance course at the University of Recife’s Faculty of Economic Sciences.

He married Maria do Carmo and had three daughters with her: Litânia, Letícia and Ângela.

The 1950s were important to the life of Osman Lins. His literary and cultural activities prospered. He received several awards in literary competitions: Minas-Brasil (1950); Jornal de Letras (1950); Tentativa [literary journal] Open Story Competition (1951), in Atibaia, São Paulo, with the tales A doação (The Donation), O Eco (The Echo) and Os sós (The Alone), respectively. His theatrical play O vale sem sol (The Sunless Valley) received special mention at the Tônia-Celi-Autran Company Competition (1957). Many of his works were acknowledged and received awards from critics, for example his novel O visitante (The Visitor) (Fábio Prado Award, 1955) and the short story book Os gestos (The Gestures) (Monteiro Lobato Award, São Paulo, 1957).

He was an editor on the magazine Memorandum, published by the Athletic Association of the Bank of Brazil (1951); wrote short stories for the Cultural Supplement of the Diario de Pernambuco (1951) and reviews in the newspaper O Estado de São Paulo (1957).

Osman Lins also was involved in the direction and production of radio cultural programmes at Rádio Jornal do Commercio, Recife (1951), published various poems in periodicals from 1953 to 1959: Instante, Lamentação tranviária, A corola, A imagem, Sonetinho ingênuo, Poema sobre a melhor maneira de amar, Serenata recifense para Cacilda Becker, Soneto do oferecimento, Soneto arquitetônico, and began the “Carta do Recife” (Letter from Recife) column, which soon became “Crônica do Recife” (Chronicles from Recife).

In the 1960s, his literary production intensified and, in parallel, many changes occurred in his life: his trips to Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo; finishing the Drama course (1960) at the Pernambuco School of Fine Arts; an internship in France (1961) on a scholarship from the Alliance Français (where he acted as a theatrical critic in France for the Jornal do Commercio); and his move to São Paulo.

It is important to express that, with the military dictatorship in Brazil from the 1960s, Osman Lins engaged himself in the defence of human rights, freedom of expression and social justice. Such preoccupations were approached in his intervention texts published in periodicals and implied in his fictional pieces.
1961 stands out in the biography of Osman Lins, not just for the recognition of his literary qualities by mainly because his work reached a bigger audience.

In 1965, two awards were bestowed upon him: Anchieta and Narizinho, both from the São Paulo State Theatre Commission, for the plays Guerra do cansa-cavalo (War of the Horse Trek) Capa verde e Natal (Green Cape and Christmas) (children’s play), respectively.

He separated from Maria do Carmo, in 1963, who returned to Recife with the daughters. In the same year he published short stories in the magazines Cláudia, Senhor and Vogue, and his play Idade dos homens (Age of Men) was performed at the Teatro Bela Vista in São Paulo.

Four years later he married the writer Julieta de Godoy Ladeira, whom Osman Lins considered an accomplice in his work. The book La Paz existe? (Does La Paz Exist?) (1977), for example, was written by four hands, resulting from a short trip Osman Lins made with Julieta to Bolivia and Peru. In the novel Avalovara (1973), he acknowledged her as co-author due to the many ideas exchanged between them.

When Lins retired from the Banco do Brasil in 1970, he became the university chair professor of Brazilian Literature at the Marília Faculty of Philosophy in São Paulo. After serving for six years, he left university lecturing, disillusioned, when realising neither the lectures nor the students had solid ties to literature.

Osman da Costa Lins died in São Paulo on 8 July 1978.


. colection (organization and participation): Missa do Galo, variações sobre o mesmo tema (Rooster Mass, Variations on the Theme) (1977).

. short story: Os gestos (The Gestures) (1957).

. essays: Um mundo estagnado (A Stagnant World) (1966, first part of Do ideal e da glória – Of Ideals and Glory), published by Ed. Universitária) Guerra sem testemunhas – o escritor, sua condição e a realidade social (War Without Witnesses – The Writer, Their Condition and Social Reality) (1969); Do ideal e da glória – problemas inculturais brasileiros (Of Ideals and Glory – Non-cultural Brazilian Problems) (1977, collection); Evangelho na taba – outros problemas inculturais brasileiros (Gospel in the Indigenous Village – Other Non-cultural Brazilian Problems) (1979, collection of articles, essays and interviews).

. travel literature: Marinheiro de primeira viagem (Virgin Sailor) (1963); La Paz existe?(Does La Paz Exist?) (1977), with Julieta de Godoy Ladeira.

. children’s literature: O diabo na noite de Natal (The Devil on Christmas Eve) (1977).

. narratives: Domingo de Páscoa (Easter Sunday) (unpublished book); and Nove, novena (Nine, Ninth-Day) (1966, collection of nine narratives), translated to French in 1971.

. novelettes: Casos especiais de Osman Lins (Special Cases of Osman Lins), composed of three novelettes: ilha no espaço (Island in Space), Quem era Shirley Temple? (Who Was Shirley Temple), and Marcha fúnebre (Funeral March) (1978); Domingo de Páscoa (Easter Sunday) (1978, the last text written by Osman Lins, published in 1996 in the literary magazine Travessia).

. novels: O visitante (The Visitor) (1955); O fiel e a pedra (The Faithful and the Rock) (1961), recognised by the Brazilian Union of Writers; Avalovara (1973); A rainha dos cárceres da Grécia (The Jail Queen of Greece) (1977).

. theatre: Lisbela e o prisioneiro (Lisbela and the Prisoner) (1961, debut in Rio de Janeiro, published in 1964); A idade dos homens (The Age of Men) (1963); Guerra do cansa-cavalo (War of the Horse Trek) (1967); Santa, automóvel e soldado (Saint, Car and Soldier) (1975); and the children’s play Capa verde e o Natal (Green Cape and Christmas) (1967).

. doctorate thesis: Lima Barreto e o espaço romanesco (Lima Barreto and the Novelistic Space) (1975, published as an essay in 1976).

Recife, 23 April 2007.
Updated on 14 September 2009.
Translated by Peter Leamy, March 2011.
Updated on 27 july 2017.

sources consulted

GRANDE ENCICLOPÉDIA LAROUSSE CULTURAL. São Paulo: Nova Cultural, 1998. p. 3616: Lins (Osman da Costa).

MENEZES, Eugênia. O duplo registro em Osman Lins: trajeto do real ao imaginário. 1995. 125 f. Dissertação (Mestrado em Letras e Lingüística) – Centro de Artes e Comunicação, Universidade Federal de Pernambuco, Recife, 1995.
OSMAN Lins [Foto neste texto]. Disponivel em: <>. Acesso em: 18 abr. 2007.
OSMAN Lins – vida e obra. Disponível em: <>. Acesso em: 16 abr. 2007.



how to quote this text

Source: BARBOSA, Virgínia. Osman Lins. Pesquisa Escolar On-Line, Joaquim Nabuco Foundation, Recife. Available at:  <>. Accessed: day month year. Exemple: 6 Aug. 2009.