Joaquim Maria Machado de Assis
(1839 - 1908)
Joaquim Maria Machado de Assis, the grandson of slaves, was born in Rio de Janeiro. He never completed grammar school and instead became a printer’s apprentice. The future novelist wrote in his free time until he could make it a living, translating Shakespeare on the side. Despite difficulties stemming from his epilepsy, he eventually produced a body of work that led Susan Sontag to call him “the greatest writer ever produced in Latin America.” In 1896 Machado helped found the Brazilian Academy of Letters and served as its president until his death.