Auta de Souza (Auta Henriqueta de Souza, (12 September 1876 — 7 February 1901) was a Brazilian writer born in Macaíba, in Rio Grande do Norte.
When Auta was three years old, her mother died of tuberculosis. Soon after, when Auta was five, her father also died of tuberculosis. Auta and her brothers were then raised by their maternal grandmother, Dona Dindinha, in a farm in Recife. Auta was initially educated at home by tutors, and it is said that she liked to gather farm workers and tell them stories she invented.
At eleven, Auta started attending a private school, Colégio São Vicente de Paula, in Recife, where she learned French, English, Literature, Religion, Music and Drawing. She spoke French fluently and was a voracious reader of Victor Hugo, Lamartine, Goncalves Dias, and Luis Murat.
At the age of twelve, Auta lost her younger brother, Irineu Rodrigues de Souza, in an accident. From the age of fourteen, she started to suffer from tuberculosis and interrupted her studies, moving back to Macaíba, where she started to work as a teacher.
At eighteen, she started to write for the magazine Oásis, and, at twenty, for the newspaper A República. Her poems were published in the newspaper O Paiz, in Rio de Janeiro, and she also wrote for the abolicionist newspapers A Tribuna and Oito de Setembro, as well as for feminist magazines such as A Mensageira and O Lírio. Between 1899 and 1900, she published her poems under the pseudonyms Ida Salúcio and Hilário das Neves.
Around 1895, Auta met João Leopoldo da Silva Loureiro, a public prosecutor with whom she had a brief love affair that lasted one year. Auta’s brother, however, was against their affair, and she was forced to separate from Joao Leopoldo who, shortly after the separation, died of tuberculosis.
During this period, she wrote a poetry collection called Dhália, which was later published as Horto, in 1900, prefaced by renowned poet Olavo Bilac.
Some of Auta’s poems were musicized and transmitted by oral tradition at regional festivities, such as Caminho do sertão,Teus anos, Desalento, Agonia do coração, Ao cair da noite, Ao luar, Meu pai, Nunca mais, Olhos azuis, Palavras tristes, Regina Coeli, À Eugênia, Meu sonho, Rezando (Róseo Menino). The modernist poet Mário de Andrade mentions these musicized poems in his book Um Turista Aprendiz, when talking about songs he heard on his trip to Natal, in the 1920s.
Auta de Souza is also well known among Brazilian spiritualists, because the spiritist medium Chico Xavier is said to have psychographed some sonnets attributed to her “spirit”. For the followers of Kardecist spiritism, Auta de Souza is seen as a “superior spirit” who is said to act on the “heavenly plane” as a spiritual mentor.
Auta de Souza died of tuberculosis on February 7, 1901, in Natal. She was 24 years old.
- Horto, by Auta de Souza (1900)
- The Cambridge History of Latin American Women’s Literature, ed. Illeana Rodríguez, Mónica Szurmuk (2015)
- Vidas de Romance – As mulheres e o exercício de ler e escrever no entre séculos – 1890-1930, by Maria de Lourdes Eleutério (2005)
- Latin American Women Writers: An Encyclopedia, ed. María Claudia André; Eva Paulino Bueno (2008)
- Documentary “Noite Auta, Céu Risonho”, written and directed by Ana Laudelina Ferreira Gomes (TV Universitária/ Núcleo Câmara Cascudo de Estudos Norte-Riograndenses, 2008)
- “Ensaio Poético: Auta de Sousa. Uma poeta de múltiplas marcas culturais”, by Ana Laudelina Ferreira Gomes, Revista da FARN, v.6, n.1/2, jan/dez 2007, pp.161-181.
- “Vida e obra de Auta de Sousa”, by Ana Laudelina Ferreira Gomes, Revista Eletrônica da Fundação Joaquim Nabuco (2002)
- “Auta de Souza – poesia em tempo de ternura”, by Henrique L. Alves, Revista do Instituto Histórico e Geográfico do Rio Grande do Norte, vols. LXX-LXXII, 1979-1980.
- “Auta de Souza: uma leitura além Horto”, by Wellington Medeiros de Araújo, in Mulher e Literatura no Rio Grande do Norte, ed. Constância Lima Duarte (1994)
- A vida breve da Auta de Sousa, by Luís da Câmara Cascudo (1961)
- Auta de Souza, by Diniz Ferreira da Cruz (1991)
- Cancioneiro de Auta de Souza, by Cláudio Galvao (2001)
- “Signos Cruzados: Vida e Poesia de Auta de Souza”, by Diva Cunha Pereira de Macedo, in Mulher e Literatura no Rio Grande do Norte, ed. Constância Lima Duarte (1994)
- The Future is Now: A New Look at African Diaspora Studies, by Vanessa K. Valdés (2012)
- Between the Lines: Literary Transnationalism and African American Poetics, by Monique-Adelle Callahan (2011)
- “Entre quadrinhas e santinhos: a poesia de Auta de Souza”, by Zahidé Muzart, Revista Travessia, n. 23, segundo semestre, 1991.
- “Auta de Sousa”, by Massaud Moisés, in: ___. A literatura brasileira: o simbolismo, 1893/1902, v. 5, 1966, pp.163-170.
- Cancioneiro de Auta de Souza, by Cláudio Galvao, 2001.
- Auta de Souza: a noiva do verso, by Ana Laudelina Ferreira Gomes, 2012
- “Auta de Souza e a escrita feminina nos Oitocentos”, by Ana Laudelina Ferreira Gomes, Cronos (Natal), v. 1, n.2, pp. 49-60, 2000.
- “Auta de Souza: uma poeta de múltiplas marcas culturais”, by Ana Laudelina Ferreira Gomes, Revista da FARN, v. 6, pp. 161-181, 2008.
- “Auta de Souza: uma moça poeta e negra no Rio Grande do Norte oitocentista”, by Genilson de Azevedo Farias, Anais Eletrônicos do II Encontro de História do Império Brasileiro, v. 1, 2010, pp. 464-479.
- “Auta de Souza”, by Constância Lima Duarte, in Escritoras Brasileiras do Século XIX. Antologia, ed. Zahidé L. Muzart, v. 2, 2004, p. 759-772