(1834 - 1886)
Born in Argentina in 1834, José Hernández began life as a newspaper reporter and stenographer. After a year in Brazil, to which he fled in 1871 after taking part in a failed provincial revolt against the government in Buenos Aires, Hernández returned to Argentina and published his protest poem Martín Fierro. It remains the most famous literary depiction of the skilled Argentine horsemen called gauchos, who were forced by the government to fight the indigenous people on the country’s frontier. The poem reflects the music of the payadores, itinerant troubadours who often dueled musically by exchanging witticisms and insults. He died of heart disease in 1886.