The Most Famous

WRITERS from Portugal

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This page contains a list of the greatest Portuguese Writers. The pantheon dataset contains 5,794 Writers, 34 of which were born in Portugal. This makes Portugal the birth place of the 29th most number of Writers behind Denmark and Canada.

Top 10

The following people are considered by Pantheon to be the top 10 most legendary Portuguese Writers of all time. This list of famous Portuguese Writers is sorted by HPI (Historical Popularity Index), a metric that aggregates information on a biography’s online popularity. Visit the rankings page to view the entire list of Portuguese Writers.

Photo of José Saramago

1. José Saramago (1922 - 2010)

With an HPI of 82.83, José Saramago is the most famous Portuguese Writer.  His biography has been translated into 103 different languages on wikipedia.

José de Sousa Saramago, GColSE (Portuguese: [ʒuˈzɛ ðɨ ˈso(w).zɐ sɐɾɐˈmaɣu]; 16 November 1922 – 18 June 2010), was a Portuguese writer and recipient of the 1998 Nobel Prize in Literature. His works, some of which can be seen as allegories, commonly present subversive perspectives on historic events, emphasizing the theopoetic human factor. In 2003 Harold Bloom described Saramago as "the most gifted novelist alive in the world today" and in 2010 said he considers Saramago to be "a permanent part of the Western canon", while James Wood praises "the distinctive tone to his fiction because he narrates his novels as if he were someone both wise and ignorant." Bloom and Saramago met when Saramago presented Bloom with an honorary degree from the University of Coimbra; according to Bloom: "A warm acquaintanceship ensued, marked by an exegetical disagreement concerning The Gospel According to Jesus Christ, which continued in correspondence and at a later meeting in New York City".More than two million copies of Saramago's books have been sold in Portugal alone and his work has been translated into 25 languages. A proponent of libertarian communism, Saramago criticized institutions such as the Catholic Church, the European Union and the International Monetary Fund. An atheist, he defended love as an instrument to improve the human condition. In 1992, the Government of Portugal under Prime Minister Aníbal Cavaco Silva ordered the removal of one of his works, The Gospel According to Jesus Christ, from the Aristeion Prize's shortlist, claiming the work was religiously offensive. Disheartened by this political censorship of his work, Saramago went into exile on the Spanish island of Lanzarote, where he lived alongside his Spanish wife Pilar del Río until his death in 2010.Saramago was a founding member of the National Front for the Defense of Culture in Lisbon in 1992, and co-founder with Orhan Pamuk, of the European Writers' Parliament (EWP).

Photo of Fernando Pessoa

2. Fernando Pessoa (1888 - 1935)

With an HPI of 80.12, Fernando Pessoa is the 2nd most famous Portuguese Writer.  His biography has been translated into 70 different languages.

Fernando António Nogueira Pessoa (Portuguese: [fɨɾˈnɐ̃du pɨˈsoɐ]; 13 June 1888 – 30 November 1935) was a Portuguese poet, writer, literary critic, translator, publisher and philosopher, described as one of the most significant literary figures of the 20th century and one of the greatest poets in the Portuguese language. He also wrote in and translated from English and French. Pessoa was a prolific writer, and not only under his own name, for he created approximately seventy-five others, of which three stand out, Alberto Caeiro, Álvaro de Campos and Ricardo Reis. He did not call them pseudonyms because he felt that they did not capture their true independent intellectual life and instead called them heteronyms. These imaginary figures sometimes held unpopular or extreme views.

Photo of Luís de Camões

3. Luís de Camões (1524 - 1580)

With an HPI of 76.87, Luís de Camões is the 3rd most famous Portuguese Writer.  His biography has been translated into 81 different languages.

Luís Vaz de Camões (Portuguese pronunciation: [luˈiʒ ˈvaʒ dɨ kaˈmõj̃ʃ]; sometimes rendered in English as Camoens or Camoëns, e.g. by Byron in English Bards and Scotch Reviewers, ; c. 1524 or 1525 – 20 June [O.S. 10 June] 1580) is considered Portugal's and the Portuguese language's greatest poet. His mastery of verse has been compared to that of Shakespeare, Vondel, Homer, Virgil and Dante. He wrote a considerable amount of lyrical poetry and drama but is best remembered for his epic work Os Lusíadas (The Lusiads). His collection of poetry The Parnasum of Luís de Camões was lost during his life. The influence of his masterpiece Os Lusíadas is so profound that Portuguese is sometimes called the "language of Camões". The day of his death, 10 June OS, is Portugal's national day.

Photo of Denis of Portugal

4. Denis of Portugal (1261 - 1325)

With an HPI of 73.47, Denis of Portugal is the 4th most famous Portuguese Writer.  His biography has been translated into 46 different languages.

Denis (Portuguese: Dinis or Diniz, IPA: [diˈniʃ]; 9 October 1261 – 7 January 1325 in Santarém), called the Farmer King (Rei Lavrador) and the Poet King (Rei Poeta), was King of Portugal. The eldest son of Afonso III of Portugal by his second wife, Beatrice of Castile, and grandson of Alfonso X of Castile (known as the Wise), Denis succeeded his father in 1279. His marriage to Elizabeth of Aragon, who was later canonised as a saint of the Roman Catholic Church, was arranged in 1281 when she was 10 years old. Denis ruled Portugal for over 46 years. He worked to reorganise his country's economy and gave an impetus to Portuguese agriculture. He ordered the planting of a large pine forest (that still exists today) near Leiria to prevent the soil degradation that threatened the region and to serve as a source of raw materials for the construction of the royal ships. He was also known for his poetry, which constitutes an important contribution to the development of Portuguese as a literary language.

Photo of José Maria de Eça de Queirós

5. José Maria de Eça de Queirós (1845 - 1900)

With an HPI of 68.49, José Maria de Eça de Queirós is the 5th most famous Portuguese Writer.  His biography has been translated into 38 different languages.

José Maria de Eça de Queirós (Portuguese pronunciation: [ʒuˈzɛ mɐˈɾiɐ dɨ ˈɛsɐ dɨ kɐjˈɾɔʃ]; 25 November 1845 – 16 August 1900) is generally considered to have been the greatest Portuguese writer in the realist style. Zola considered him to be far greater than Flaubert. In the London Observer, Jonathan Keates ranked him alongside Dickens, Balzac and Tolstoy. During his lifetime the spelling was Eça de Queiroz, and this is the form that appears on many editions of his works; the modern standard Portuguese spelling is "Eça de Queirós".

Photo of Judah Leon Abravanel

6. Judah Leon Abravanel (1460 - 1530)

With an HPI of 68.25, Judah Leon Abravanel is the 6th most famous Portuguese Writer.  His biography has been translated into 19 different languages.

Leo the Hebrew, pen name of Judá Abravanel (otherwise known as: in Latin, Leo Hebraeus; in Portuguese, Leão Hebreu; in Italian, Leone Ebreo; in Spanish, León Hebreo; in French, León l'Hebreu and in Hebrew, יְהוּדָה בֶּן יִצְחָק אַבְּרַבַנְאֵל [Yehuda ben Yitzhak Abravanel]) (c. 1460 Lisbon – c. 1530 ? Naples?), was a Portuguese Jewish philosopher, physician and poet. His work Dialogues of Love was one of the most important philosophical works of his time.

Photo of Gil Vicente

7. Gil Vicente (1465 - 1536)

With an HPI of 67.26, Gil Vicente is the 7th most famous Portuguese Writer.  His biography has been translated into 28 different languages.

Gil Vicente (Portuguese: [ˈʒiɫ viˈsẽtɨ]; c. 1465 – c. 1536), called the Trobadour, was a Portuguese playwright and poet who acted in and directed his own plays. Considered the chief dramatist of Portugal he is sometimes called the "Portuguese Plautus," often referred to as the "Father of Portuguese drama" and as one of Western literature's greatest playwrights. Also noted as a lyric poet, Vicente worked in Spanish as much as he worked in Portuguese and is thus, with Juan del Encina, considered joint-father of Spanish drama. Vicente was attached to the courts of the Portuguese kings Manuel I and John III. He rose to prominence as a playwright largely on account of the influence of Queen Dowager Leonor, who noticed him as he participated in court dramas and subsequently commissioned him to write his first theatrical work. He may also have been identical to an accomplished goldsmith of the same name at the court of Évora; the goldsmith is mentioned in royal documents from 1509 to 1517 and worked for the widow of King John II, Dona Leonor. He was the creator of the famous Belém Monstrance, and master of rhetoric of King Manuel I. His plays and poetry, written in both Portuguese and Spanish, were a reflection of the changing times during the transition from Middle Ages to Renaissance and created a balance between the former time of rigid mores and hierarchical social structure and the new society in which this order was undermined. While many of Vicente's works were composed to celebrate religious and national festivals or to commemorate events in the life of the royal family, others draw upon popular culture to entertain, and often to critique, Portuguese society of his day. Though some of his works were later suppressed by the Portuguese Inquisition, causing his fame to wane, he is now recognised as one of the principal figures of the Portuguese Renaissance.

Photo of João de Barros

8. João de Barros (1496 - 1570)

With an HPI of 66.61, João de Barros is the 8th most famous Portuguese Writer.  His biography has been translated into 22 different languages.

João de Barros (Portuguese pronunciation: [ʒuˈɐ̃w̃ dɨ ˈbaʁuʃ]) (1496 – 20 October 1570), called the Portuguese Livy, is one of the first great Portuguese historians, most famous for his Décadas da Ásia ("Decades of Asia"), a history of the Portuguese in India, Asia, and southeast Africa.

Photo of António Vieira

9. António Vieira (1608 - 1697)

With an HPI of 66.17, António Vieira is the 9th most famous Portuguese Writer.  His biography has been translated into 21 different languages.

Father António Vieira (Portuguese pronunciation: [ɐ̃ˈtɔniu viˈɐjɾɐ]; 6 February 1608 – 18 July 1697) was a Jesuit priest, Portuguese diplomat, orator, preacher, philosopher, writer, and member of the Royal Council to the King of Portugal. Vieira was born in Lisbon to Cristóvão Vieira Ravasco, the son of a mulatto woman, and Maria de Azevedo. In 1614 he accompanied his parents to the colony of Brazil, where his father had been posted as a registrar. He received his education at the Jesuit college at Bahia. He entered the Jesuit novitiate in 1625, under Father Fernão Cardim, and two years later pronounced his first vows. At the age of eighteen he was teaching rhetoric, and a little later dogmatic theology, at the college of Olinda, besides writing the "annual letters" of the province.In 1635 he entered the priesthood. He soon began to distinguish himself as an orator, and the three patriotic sermons he delivered at Bahia (1638–40) are remarkable for their imaginative power and dignity of language. The Sermon for the Good Success of the Arms of Portugal Against Those of Holland was considered by the Abbé Raynal to be "perhaps the most extraordinary discourse ever heard from a Christian pulpit. When the revolution of 1640 placed John IV on the throne of Portugal, Brazil gave him her allegiance, and Vieira was chosen to accompany the viceroy's son to Lisbon to congratulate the new king. His talents and aptitude for affairs impressed John IV so favorably that he appointed him tutor to the Infante Dom Pedro, royal preacher, and a member of the Royal Council.Vieira did efficient work in the War and Navy Departments, revived commerce, urged the foundation of a national bank and the organization of the Brazilian Trade Company.Vieira used the pulpit to propound measures for improving the general and particularly the economic condition of Portugal. His pen was as busy as his voice, and in four notable pamphlets he advocated the creation of companies of commerce, denounced as unchristian a society which discriminated against New Christians (Muslim and Jewish converts), called for the reform of the procedure of the Inquisition and the admission of Jewish and foreign traders, with guarantees for their security from religious persecution. Moreover, he did not spare his own estate, for in his Sexagesima sermon he boldly attacked the current style of preaching, its subtleties, affectation, obscurity and abuse of metaphor, and declared the ideal of a sermon to be one which sent men away " not contented with the preacher, but discontented with themselves."In 1647 Vieira began his career as a diplomat, in the course of which he visited England, France, the Netherlands and Italy. In his Papel Forte he urged the cession of Pernambuco to the Dutch as the price of peace, while his mission to Rome in 1650 was undertaken in the hope of arranging a marriage between the heir to the throne of Portugal and the only daughter of King Philip IV of Spain. His success, freedom of speech and reforming zeal had made him enemies on all sides, and only the intervention of the king prevented his expulsion from the Society of Jesus, so that prudence counselled his return to Brazil.In his youth he had vowed to consecrate his life to the conversion of the African slaves and native Indians of his adopted country, and arriving in Maranhão early in 1653 he recommenced his apostolic labors, which had been interrupted during his stay of fourteen years in the Old World. Starting from Pará, he penetrated to the banks of the Tocantins, making numerous converts to Christianity and European civilization among the most violent tribes; but after two years of unceasing labour, during which every difficulty was placed in his way by the colonial authorities, he saw that the Indians must be withdrawn from the jurisdiction of the governors, to prevent their exploitation, and placed under the control of the members of a single religious society.Accordingly, in June 1654 he set sail for Lisbon to plead the cause of the Indians, and in April 1655 he obtained from the king a series of decrees which placed the missions under the Society of Jesus, with himself as their superior, and prohibited the enslavement of the natives, except in certain specified cases. Returning with this charter of freedom, he organized the missions over a territory having a coast-line of 400 leagues, and a population of 200,000 souls, and in the next six years (1655–61) the indefatigable missionary set the crown on his work. After a time, however, the colonists, attributing the shortage of slaves and the consequent diminution in their profits to the Jesuits, began actively to oppose Vieira, and they were joined by members of the secular clergy and the other Orders who were jealous of the monopoly enjoyed by the company in the government of the Indians.Vieira was accused of want of patriotism and usurpation of jurisdiction, and in 1661, after a popular revolt, the authorities sent him with thirty-one other Jesuit missionaries back to Portugal. He found his friend King John IV dead and the court a prey to faction, but, dauntless as ever in the pursuit of his ambition, he resorted to his favorite arm of preaching, and on Epiphany Day, 1662, in the royal chapel, he replied to his persecutors in a famous rhetorical effort, and called for the execution of the royal decrees in favor of the Indians.Circumstances were against him, however, and the count of Castelmelhor, fearing his influence at court, had him exiled first to Porto and then to Coimbra; but in both these places he continued his work of preaching, and the reform of the Inquisition also occupied his attention. To silence him his enemies then denounced him to that tribunal, and he was cited to appear before the Holy Office at Coimbra to answer points smacking of heresy in his sermons, conversations and writings. He had believed in the prophecies of a 16th-century shoemaker poet, Bandarra, dealing with the coming of a ruler who would inaugurate an epoch of unparalleled prosperity for the church and for Portugal, these new prosperous times were to be called the Quinto Império or "Fifth Empire" (also called "Sebastianism"). In Vieira's famous opus, Clavis Prophetarum, he had endeavoured to prove the truth of his dreams from passages of Scripture. As he refused to submit, the Inquisitors kept him in prison from October 1665 to December 1667, and finally imposed a sentence which prohibited him from teaching, writing or preaching.It was a heavy blow for the Jesuits, and though Vieira recovered his freedom and much of his prestige shortly afterwards on the accession of King Pedro II, it was determined that he should go to Rome to procure revision of the sentence, which still hung over him though the penalties had been removed. During a six years' residence in the Eternal City, Vieira won his greatest triumphs. Pope Clement X invited him to preach before the College of Cardinals, and he became confessor to Queen Christina of Sweden and a member of her literary academy.At the request of the pope he drew up a report of two hundred pages on the Inquisition in Portugal, with the result that after a judicial inquiry Pope Innocent XI suspended it in Portugal for seven years (1674–81). Ultimately, Vieira returned to Portugal with a papal bull exempting him from the jurisdiction of the grand inquisitor, and in January 1681 he embarked for Brazil. He resided in Bahia and occupied himself in revising his sermons for publication, and in 1687 he became superior of the province. A false accusation of complicity in an assassination, and the intrigues of members of his own Company, clouded his last months, and on 18 July 1697 he died in Salvador, Bahia. And in 1897, African born Antonio Vieira was canonized on the 200th anniversary of his death, in recognition of his efforts to "abolish discrimination against Jewish merchants, to abolish slavery, and to alleviate conditions among the poor" in Brazil. His works form perhaps the greatest monument of Portuguese prose. Two hundred discourses exist to prove his fecundity, while his versatility is shown by the fact that he could treat the same subject differently on half a dozen occasions. His letters, simple and conversational in style, have a deep historical and political interest, and form documents of the first value for the history of the period.

Photo of Luís Fróis

10. Luís Fróis (1532 - 1597)

With an HPI of 64.89, Luís Fróis is the 10th most famous Portuguese Writer.  His biography has been translated into 17 different languages.

Luís Fróis (1532 – 8 July 1597) was a Portuguese missionary. He was born in Lisbon and in 1548 joined the Society of Jesus (Jesuits). In 1563, he arrived in Japan to engage in missionary work, and in the following year arrived in Kyoto, meeting Ashikaga Yoshiteru who was then shōgun. In 1569, he befriended Oda Nobunaga and stayed in his personal residence in Gifu while writing books for a short while. His works on history were somewhat expanded by Joāo Rodrigues. Among his works was the Treatise (1585) in which is contained some of the contradictions and differences in behaviors between the peoples of Europe and this province of Japan very briefly and succinctly (Tratado em que se contêm muito sucinta e abreviadamente algumas contradições e diferenças de costumes entre a gente de Europa e esta província de Japão). Frois witnessed the end of Nobunaga, from his church across the street from Honno-ji, writing an account afterward.A fictionalized version of Luis Frois appears in the Capcom game Onimusha: Dawn of Dreams.

Pantheon has 34 people classified as writers born between 1261 and 1974. Of these 34, 4 (11.76%) of them are still alive today. The most famous living writers include Christopher Hampton, Manuel Alegre, and José Luandino Vieira. The most famous deceased writers include José Saramago, Fernando Pessoa, and Luís de Camões. As of October 2020, 8 new writers have been added to Pantheon including Mariana Alcoforado, Manuel Maria Barbosa du Bocage, and António Ferreira.

Living Writers

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Deceased Writers

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Newly Added Writers (2020)

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Which Writers were alive at the same time? This visualization shows the lifespans of the 16 most globally memorable Writers since 1700.