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Olavo Bilac
Olavo Bilac 2.jpg
Born Olavo Brás Martins dos Guimarães Bilac
(1865-12-16)16 December 1865
Rio de Janeiro, Empire of Brazil
Died 28 December 1918(1918-12-28) (aged 53)
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Occupation Poet, journalist, translator
Nationality Brazilian
Alma mater Faculdade de Medicina da Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro
Literary movement Parnassianism
Notable works Poesias, Brazilian Flag Anthem

Olavo Brás Martins dos Guimarães Bilac (16 December 1865 – 28 December 1918), often known as Olavo Bilac, was a Brazilian Parnassian poet, journalist and translator. Alongside Alberto de Oliveira and Raimundo Correia, he was a member of the "Parnassian Triad". He was elected the "Prince of Brazilian Poets" in 1907 by the magazine Fon-Fon. He wrote the lyrics of the Brazilian Flag Anthem.

He founded and occupied the 15th chair of the Brazilian Academy of Letters from 1897 until his death in 1918. He is also the patron of the military service in Brazil due to his campaigns in favor of conscription.


Bilac was born in Rio de Janeiro to Brás Martins dos Guimarães Bilac and Delfina Belmira Gomes de Paula. As a young man, he was a brilliant student, enrolling in the school of medicine at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro at the age of 15.

He began studying medicine, but did not finish the course. He also tried to study law at the Faculdade de Direito da Universidade de São Paulo but did not finish that course either. Instead, he found pleasure in writing and in journalism.

His first work was the sonnet "Sesta de Nero" ("Nero's Nap") in the newspaper Gazeta de Notícias in 1884, which received praise from Artur Azevedo.

Olavo Bilac (Iconográfico)
Olavo Bilac.

In addition to poetry, Bilac wrote publicitary texts, chronicles, schoolbooks, children's poetry and satirical works. In 1891, he was arrested at the Fortaleza da Laje in Rio de Janeiro for opposing the government of Floriano Peixoto.

In 1897, Bilac lost control of his car, crashing it in a tree. He was the first person to suffer a car accident in Brazil.

Bilac never married and never had children. He was engaged to Amélia de Oliveira, the sister of the poet Alberto de Oliveira, but their engagement was short-lived since it was opposed by another brother of Amélia, who said Bilac had no future. He had an even shorter engagement to Maria Selika, daughter of violinist Francisco Pereira da Costa, but a legend says that Amélia was very faithful to Bilac: she never married, and, when Bilac died, she put a lock of her hair in his coffin.

Bilac died in 1918. His last words were "Give me coffee! I'm going to write!"

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