Rosario Castellanos: biography and work

Rosario Castellanos (1925-1974) was a Mexican writer and poet, considered by many the most important Aztec writer of the 20th century. In most of her literary works, she explored the double reality of being a woman and a Mexican.

His 1950 masters thesis became a turning point for modern Mexican writers. In this text, titled About female culture , they found a deep call to self-consciousness.

Rosario Castellanos: biography and work

In this sense, most of Rosario Castellanos' work is marked by a remarkable feminist ideology. Her writing reflects a deep concern with what it means to be a woman in Mexico.

Castellanos considered that the cultural schemes of patriarchal society were the source of much of the repression suffered by women. Her writings put into perspective the reality of marriage, motherhood and other roles assumed by women.

Likewise, he defended the indigenous culture in his writings, showing himself to be against racial discrimination. In many of his private letters and published works, he insisted on the need to change the conscience of the white population.


  • 1 First years
  • 2 Beginnings as a writer
    • 2.1 Career
    • 2.2 I work as an ambassador
    • 2.3 Death
  • 3 Literary work
    • 3.1 Poetry
    • 3.2 Prose
    • 3.3 Theater plays
    • 3.4 essays
  • 4 References

First years

Rosario Castellanos was born in Mexico City on May 25, 1925. She was the first-born of Adriana Figueroa and César Castellanos. When he was one year old, his family returned to Chiapas, where they originally came from.

His early years were marked by loneliness, death and rejection. She was in the care of an Indian nanny and an indigenous girl of the same age. The premature death of the beloved son, his brother Benjamin, sharpened the rejection of his parents towards her.

Then, in 1941, President Lázaro Cárdenas promoted a program of agrarian reform. This stripped the provincial elite of most of its properties. When the Castellanos family lost their properties, they moved back to Mexico City.

In 1944, Castellanos entered the National Autonomous University of Mexico to study law. Soon he left and changed to the Faculty of Philosophy and Letters. In 1950, he obtained his master's degree in philosophy.

Beginnings as a writer

Rosario Castellanos began writing poetry in 1940 and her work was influenced by the identity and spirit of Chiapas. In college, he often attended social gatherings with young Mexicans, Guatemalans and Nicaraguans.

Later, many members of this group of future writers, including Castellanos, would be known as"The 1950 generation." Most of his first productions were published in América, Revista Antológica de Literatura.


In 1948, both parents died in a period of one month. This fact and the poem Endless death by José Gorostiza resulted in the publication of his first two extensive poems. This marked the beginning of her career as a writer and as a cultural critic.

In 1943, the interest shown in his thesis for women's affairs earned him a scholarship from the Mexican Writers Center. The purpose was to research and write an essay about women's contributions to Mexican culture. She was the director of Cultural Activities at the Chiapaneco Institute of Culture in 1951.

Later, his work with the Guiñol theater of the National Indian Institute (1956-1968) and the Rockefeller Foundation scholarship (1954-1955) allowed him to be in contact with the indigenous culture.

As a result of this experience he published his first novel: Balún Canán (1957). This novel is a critique of the social structures that have harmed the indigenous population. His second novel, Occupation of darkness (1962), also explores the clash of cultures in southern Mexico.

Then, during the 1960s, he continued his prolific literary work. He wrote poems and essays. In 1963, he began writing articles and columns for the cultural supplements Novedades y Siempre!. Then he wrote for Excelsior.

He also taught Latin American literature at several universities in the United States. In Mexico he worked in the department of Comparative Literature at the National University.

I work as an ambassador

Rosario Castellanos was named ambassador of Mexico in Israel. The possibility of a change for her and her young son after her recent divorce made her accept the position.

During the three years he was in Tel Aviv, he taught Latin American Literature at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. In addition, he published a series of short stories, wrote a play and compiled several essays.


On August 7, 1974, at her residence in Tel Aviv, Rosario Castellanos received a fatal electric shock. He had come out of the shower and lit a lamp in his living room. An employee found her unconscious, but died in the ambulance before arriving at the hospital.

His nation paid tribute to him at a state funeral. For their part, the literary communities of Israel, Europe, the United States, Central America and Chile celebrated commemorations.

Literary work

The poetry of Rosario Castellanos is deeply Catholic. His verse recalls the work of Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz, whom Castellanos admired. In his works he expresses social injustice and admiration before the spectacular nature of creation. The poetry of Castellanos is considered powerful and original.

In 1972, Castellanos published his poetry in a volume entitled Poetry is not you . The poem was a controversial allusion to a well-known verse by the Spanish Romantic poet, Gustavo Adolfo Bécquer, in which he tells his beloved that she is poetry.

However, it is best known for its prose. His most famous novel is Occupation of Darkness . Your collection of stories Real city It is also well known. It is an informed portrait of the world of the indigenous Chamula peoples.

Below is a selection of his work.


  • Path of dust , 1948
  • Notes for a declaration of faith , 1948
  • Livid light : poems,
  • Poetry is not you: poetic work , 1948-1041
  • Looking at the Mona Lisa , 1981
  • Meditation on the threshold , 1988.


  • Balún Canán , 1957
  • Real city 1960
  • Occupation of darkness , 1975
  • Family album , 1977

Theater plays

  • Checkerboard , 1952
  • Petul in the open school , 1962
  • The eternal feminine , 1975


  • About female culture 1950
  • The use of the word 1974
  • Summary judgments , 1984


  1. BBC (s / f). Rosario Castellanos. Taken from
  2. González Echevarría, R. (2012, November 30). Rosario Castellanos. Taken from
  3. Ahern, M. (Editor). (1988). To Rosario Castellanos Reader: An Anthology of Her Poetry, Short Fiction, Essays, and Drama. Austin: University of Texas Press.
  4. Murphy, J. (2014). Castellanos, Rosario. In M. C. André and E. P. Bueno (editors), Latin American Women Writers: An Encyclopedia. New York: Routledge.
  5. Ahern, M. (1990). Rosario Castellanos (1925-1974). In D. E. Martin (editor), Spanish American Women Writers: A Bio-bibliographical Source Book, pp 140-155). Westport: Greenwood Publishing Group.

Loading ..

Recent Posts

Loading ..