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Flora Tristán Y Moscoso

Other names/titles: Flora Celestina Theresa Enriqueta Tristán Leisné
Gender: F
Ethnic origin: White

Biographical details

Born in Paris, in 1803, she was the daughter of Mariano de Tristán y Moscoso (from Arequipa) and Teresa Laisne (France). She was a writer and social fighter. In her work, Tristán quotes extensively from Wollstonecraft.

Her father died when she was six, and allegedly said to her "hija mía te queda Pío". The family moved to the outskirts of Paris. She began work in a factory as a lithographer when she was 17. She married the factory owner, André Chazal, soon afterwards, at her mother's instigation, to save the family. They had two children Ernest and Aline. The marriage did not last, and the factory "la quiebra", so Tristán decided to seek her origins in Peru. Chazel begged her not to go and suggested that Tristán turn to prostitution to support them. She left him and he pursued her for years "para que le entrogue a los hijos". He insulted her in the streets, "rapto a los niños", and slandered her. She was only saved from him when she denounced him by saying he was trying to commit incest with Aline. He was sent to prison. She went to Bilboa for proof of her parents' marriage, but the records had disappeared during the war with France. She decided to sail for Peru in any case, leaving on 7 April 1833. She arrived in Callao in September and went to Arequipa. She did not receive any inheritance. She returned to Paris and wrote Peregrinations of a Pariah. She later published El arte después del Renacimiento and a novel, Mefis. In 1840 she was a defender of women's rights and of the unity of the working class. Her work, La emancipación de la mujer was published in 1846, after her death. (Guardia, 59-60)

In 1833 she arrived in Peru to claim her inheritance from her uncle, Pío Tristán. She returned to Europe disappointed in 1834 and wrote Peregrinaciones de una paria, 1838, the story of her journey. This is her only work about Peru. All her books were written in French. Miller describes her as a “precursora” for Latin American women. (Miller, 14) Tristán met and admired Señora Gamarra, wife of the former president of Peru. (Tristán, 174, 290-307.) Tristán fantasised about making Colonel Bernardo Escudero fall in love with her and then use him as a means of participating in the government of Peru (Tristán, 231-232).

She describes the rabonas (female soldiers/ camp-followers) showing both disgust and admiration. Although she would like to emulate Señora Gamarra, there’s no sign of her wishing to become a rabona. (Tristán, 179-181.) Describes the nunneries of Arequipa. (Tristán, 186-204.) Tristán dismisses the nuns at the Convent of Incarnation, Lima, as “idle gossips” and their convent as “dirty and neglected”. (Tristán, 261-262.) She comments on the freedom of the Lima women: “There is no place on earth where women are so free and exercise so much power as in Lima.” They are “taller and better built” than the men. They marry young (aged 10-12) and have around 6-7 children. They are attractive rather than beautiful, with light, smooth skin. They are eloquent in both speech and gesture. She describes the saya skirts in detail, full of admiration, claiming that they make the women so elegant that it empowers them. This perfect disguise of the face and body, enables women to go out alone. The tightness of the saya makes it unnecessary to wear a corset and women can let down their hair under the manto veil. It’s a comfortable costume that makes women free and independent. She adds that some women further disguise themselves by wearing an old saya and manto, but with good shoes, stockings and handkerchief to show their status. Such women “disfrazadas” are never questioned: “It is supposed, and rightly, that she has disguised herself because she has important reasons for doing so.” (Tristán, 269-277.)

Tristán left Callao on the English boat, the William Rushton. It arrived in Falmouth on 6 November 1834. She appears to have been back in France in January 1835. (Tristán, 310)

Basadre describes her as an adventurer: "ave de paso, ave sin morada". (Basadre, 337)

Life Events

Born 1803She was born in Paris.
Other 1833She sailed for Peru on 7 April 1833 and arrived in September 1833.
Other 1834She met Francisca Zubiaga.
Other 1838She wrote Peregrinaciones de una paria.
Died 1844


Jean Hawkes, (1986), Peregrinations of a Pariah

Miller, Francesca, (1991), Latin American Women and the search for Social Justice

Meyer, Doris, (1995), Reinterpreting the Spanish American Essay: Women Writers of the 19th and 20th Centuries

Basadre, Jorge, (1929), La Iniciación de la República

Guardia, Sara Beatriz, (1985), Mujeres peruanas: El otro lado de la historia

Davies, Catherine, Brewster, Claire and Owen, Hilary, (2006), South American Independence. Gender, Politics, Text


Book: Peregrinations of a Pariah

Edited Book: Peregrinations of a Pariah

Book: Peregrinations of a Pariah


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Resource id #43 (3)

Resource id #47 (4)

Resource id #51 (38)

Resource id #55 (21)

Resource id #59 (14)

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