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Andrés Bello

Other names/titles:
Gender: M
Ethnic origin: White

Biographical details

He was born in Caracas, Venezuela, 29 November 1781, a poet, educationalist, philosopher, historian, politician and intellectual. A conservative liberal, who was Bolívar’s tutor. He went to London as a representative of Bolívar’s Venezuelan Junta, seeking British recognition and support for the Independence Movement. Lived in England from 1810-1829, but he didn’t get much support either personally or for the movement. He learned Greek, spent many hours in the British Library where he read James Mill and Jeremy Bentham. He met liberal John Stuart Mill, son of James, Latin American officials and English intellectuals. He supported Adam Smith’s economic ideas. In 1829 he went to Chile as Minister of Foreign Relations. He studied international law, theory of law, philosophy. He published Principios de derecho de gentes, 1832; also Derecho internacional(1833), which he began to write in England. This was re-issued in 1864 as Principios de Derecho Internacional. He wrote many articles for El Araucano, (this began on 17 September 1830, and it seems that Bello left the editorial board in 1850) and other cultural magazines. His work in forming public opinion is to be found in El Araucano. He was the first editor of La Gaceta de Caracas (which began on 24 October 1808) and contributed to the conservative, El Popular, Chile, 1830. He also wrote for Museo de Ambas Américas, El Crepúsculo, and La Revista de Santiago. He had a printing press with Mateo Gallagher and Jaime Lamb (probably English) and they planned to form a literary magazine El Lucero, but it failed before it started. His Obras completas, published in Chile, 1881-93, span 15 volumes, but they don’t include his many articles that appeared in American and Spanish periodicals. These have never been collected. He died in 1865. (de Avila Martel, 9-10).

He wrote Chile’s civil laws, 1840-55 and founded the modern university of Chile. He was in favour of reconciliation with Spain.

He read the Greek classics, Viril, Homer and Sophocles, and later moved on to Byron and Victor Hugo. He hosted tertulias, attended by members of the Sociedad Literaria. (Montes, Orlandi, 49, 51)

He married I) Mary Anne Boyland (English) who died in 1821; ii) in 1824, Isabel Antonia Dunn (English) Bello met Bartolomé José Gallardo (Spanish) in London, both studied in the British Museum Library. He also met Colombian Juan García del Río in 1826. They became good friends and corresponded until at least 1846. Bello’s stay in England made him favour a constitutional monarchy; hence he collaborated with Diego Portales in Chile.

Two letters written to him by his mother, Ana López Delgado are reproduced. (Vergara Quiroz, 143-144, 153.)

On 4 March 1834, he wrote to "muy señora mía", Javiera Carrera, about the cultivation of dahlias. He ends "mi mujer e hijos saludan a V afectuosamente. Sirvase V." (Archivo General de Chile, Fondo Varios)

Bello's concerns were for all of Latin America, especially literature and education. He was self-taught. Aged 11 he saved up and bought Calderón's plays. He mixed with rich children at school, especially the Ustáriz family. Bello had dinner at their house after which they used to read poetry aloud. The Ustárizes encouraged Bello to learn French and English and Luis Ustáriz obtained a government post for Bello after he left school. He translated French and English letters and through this he learned the news of Carlos IV's fall. He was sent to Lindon with Bolívar in 1810. The 1812 earthquake left him stranded there without funds. He stayed until 1830, making a living from teaching Spanish. He married Mary Anne Boyland in 1814. He became friends with Jeremy Bentham. While in London he contributed to Reporterio Americano, along with Juan García del Río. He also contributed to El Español (1810-14) and Antonio José de Irisiarri's El Censor Americano. In 1823 he set up the Biblioteca Americana; it failed due to lack of funds. In 1826 he set up the quarterly magazine, El Reportario Americano. There were four editions of literary articles promoting Latin American independence, and also scientific, agricultural and educational issues. Some poems by Olmedo, García Goyeno and Navarette were included. Bello's poems "Silva" and "Alocación á la poesía", that show his love of nature were published in this quarterly. From 1822-24 Bello was Secretary for Chile in the diplomatic service; he then became Secretary for Colombia, but the pay was poor. Bello did not, unlike many of his peers, write poems glorifying Bolívar. In 1830, Bello was invited to Chile by President Prieto to be Chief Secretary. There was a good salary and travel expenses paid. (Coester, 72-77)

In 1830 he was invited by the conservatives to edit El Araucano, to counteract Mora's Mercurio. He also ran El Colegio de Santiago from his house, in which were educated a group of men who eventually brought down Rosas. Supporters of Bello founded El Semanario Literario. He became Rector of the Universidad de Chile on 17 September 1843. After this he wrote less poetry, and more fables and verses for women's albums. (Coester, 196-201)

He was editor of La Gaceta de Caracas in 1808. (Bella Josefa, 111)

He was present at a meal in Caracas in 1806 at which Bolívar read a translation of Voltaire's Zulima. (Zapata, 59-60)

He wrote a play, La España Restaurada, also called El Certamen de los Patriotas, that was presented in December 1808, with allegorical characters and an actress representing Spain. Other titles (Batalla de Bailén and Impersonel de Murat) celebrated Spanish victories over France. The productions ended with patriotic (pro-Spanish) songs. (Pérez Vila, Tomo 2, xix)

He admired Herder, Humboldt and Rousseau. He opposed the Romantics, but was not totally against their movement. Franco believes, "in spirit, he is near to Fernández de Lizardi. Both were concerned with upholding values more constructive than those of the old colonial aristocracy. Both were concerned with instilling the value of hard work and honest toil, both exemplified the nascent middle-class emphasis on effort and peaceful reform." (Franco, 28-33)

Silva Castro reproduces a letter to Javiera Carrera regarding the cultivation of dahlias. (Silva Castro, Cartas, 65-66)

Life Events

Born 1781He was born 29 November 1781.
Other 1808He was the first editor of La Gaceta de Caracas (which began on 24 October 1808).
Other 1808He edited the Gaceta de Caracas until June 1810.
Other 1810He lived in England from 1810-1829
Married 1814He married Mary Anne Boyland (English).
Married 1824He married Isabel Antonia Dunn (English).
Other 1834He wrote to his friend Javiera Carrera on 4 March 1834.
Died 1865


Ardila A, Hector M., (1984), Hombres y letras de Colombia

de Avila Martel, Alamiro, (1981), "Prologo"

Vergara Quiroz, Sergio, (1987), Cartas de mujeres en Chile, 1630-1885

Montes, Hugo and Orlandi, Julio, (1969), Historia y antología de la literatura chilena

Coester, Alfred, (1919), The Literary History of Spanish America

Smith, Verity, (1997), Encyclopedia of Latin American Literature

Zapata, Ramón, (1997), Los libros que leyó el Libertador Simón Bolívar

Pérez Vila, Manuel, (1983), Gaceta de Caracas

R.O. Jones, (1973), Spanish American Literature Since Independence

Silva Castro, Raúl, (1954), Cartas chilenas (Siglos XVIII y XIX)


There is no writing by this subject in the database.


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