Home » HISTORIANS » Famous Puerto Ricans

Acosta, José Julian

(1825–1891), journalist and a leader of the Puerto Rican abolishement movement, was born in

on May 27, 1825 in San Juan. He received his primary and secondary education from Rafael

Cordero. In 1867, he was a member of the Puerto Rican commission, which participated in the

Overseas Information Committee in Madrid, Spain. The commission advocated for the abolition

of slavery and political reforms at the local level. On November, 1870, he became a leading

member of the Liberal Reformist Party. He also collaborated to the foundation of “El Progreso”

(Progress) newspaper, of which he was editor. In 1873, he became the president of the Liberal

Reformist Party. He died on August 26, 1891 in San Juan.

Acosta, Juan F.

(1890–1968), musician, composer, and music teacher, was born on May 27, 1890 in San

Sebastián. Acosta wrote over 844 musical pieces, including 127 religious hymns. Among

Acosta’s may composition are ” Bajo La Sombra de un Pino” (Under the Shade of a Pine)

, “Asi es la Vida” (That’s Life), and “Glorias del Pasado” (Glories of the Past). Acosta died in

1968 and buried in Quebradillas.

 

Agrelot, Jose Miguel

(1927–2004), radio and television show host, and a notorious comedian, better known as Don

Cholito, was born on April 21, 1927 in San Juan. Agrelot started working on radio stations when

he was 14. Some of Agrelot’s long list of shows include: “El Colegio de la Alegría” (The School

of Joy), “El Profesor Colgate”, “La Criada Malcriada” (The Nasty Maid), “Desafiando a los

Genios” (Challenging the Geniuses), and “El Show del Mediodia” (The Midday Show).

In 2003, his radio show, “Su Alegre Despertar” (Joyful Awakening), broke the world’s record for

the longest run non stop radio show in history, reaching its 53rd year to run non-stop and making

Agrelot the second person from Puerto Rico, after Wilfredo Benitez, to join the Guinness Book

of World Records. He died on January 28, 2004.

 

Albizu Campos, Pedro

(1891–1965), politician, was born on September 12, 1891 in Tenerias

Village, Ponce. The son of Alejandro Albizu and Juana Campos. He

was the nephew of Juan Morel Campos. Terrorist to his enemies and

critics, hero to the most fervent Puerto Rican nationalist. After service

in an African-American unit during World War I he developed a

lasting enmity for the United States and became the fiery champion of

Puerto Rican independence. Educated at Harvard (BS 1916, LL B

1923), he joined the Nationalist Party in 1924 and was the most

prominent “independentista” of his time. In 1930, he was elected

president of the Nationalist Party of Puerto Rico. Convicted of seeking

to overthrow the U.S. government, he was imprisoned (1937-43)

before returning to Puerto Rico in 1947. His party made a poor

showing in the 1948 election. He masterminded a nationalist attack to

the governor’s mansion in Puerto Rico and was accused of being

behind the October 31, 1950, assassination attempt on President

Truman at Blair House in Washington. After he was sentenced to

prison for 53 years, Governor Luis Muñoz Marín offered him a

conditional pardon in 1953, but withdrew it after the nationalist attack

on the U.S. House of Representatives the next year. Campos spent his

final years in prison. While in prison, he claimed that he was the

subject of human radiation experiments. He suffered a stroke in 1956

and was again pardoned in 1964. Died in Hato Rey, on April 21, 1965.

 

Alegría, Ricardo E.

(1921–), cultural antropologist and archeologist, was born on April 14, 1921 in San Juan. He

was the driving force behind the creation of the influential Institute of Puerto Rican Culture,

which he headed from its foundation in 1955 to 1972. In 1993 he was the first Latin-American

to win the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization’s Picasso Medal,

the same year that President Clinton awarded him the Charles Frankel Award of the Humanities.

 

Alers, Rafael

(1903–1978), musician, notorious orchestra director, and composer, was born on October 16,

1903 in Aguadilla. He received his first musical instructions from Juan F. Acosta. In 1956, Alers

became the first Puerto Rican to compose the music score for a Hollywood movie, “Crowded

Paradise”. His best known work is “Violeta”  . Other works include: “Recuerdos,” “Serenata

Galante,” “Estrella de Borinquen,” “Rosita,” and “Juanita”. He died on March 20, 1978 in San

Juan.

 

Alonso y Pacheco, Manuel A.

(1822–1889), writer, poet and journalist, was born on October 22, 1822 in San Juan. He is

considered to be the first Puerto Rican writer of notable importance. He received his primary

education in Cayey and in the San Idelfonso Seminary in San Juan. In 1842, he moved

to Barcelona, Spain where he enrolled in the University of Bercelona to study medicine,

specializing in mental disorders. He finished his medical studies in 1845 and practiced medicine

in Barcelona. In 1844, he published the “Album Puertorriqueño” (Puerto Rican Album), which

was the second anthology of poems published in the island. In 1848, he returned to Puerto

Rico and setup his medical practice in Caguas. In 1849, he published “El Gíbaro” (now is

spelled “Jibaro”), a book that is part prose and part poetry and centered on the life as a poor

Puerto Rican country farmer and Puerto Rican traditions. Alonso died on November 4, 1889 in

San Juan.

 

Baldorioty de Castro, Román

(1823–1889), politician, was born on February 23, 1823 in Guaynabo.

He considered to be Puerto Rico’s foremost abolitionist and

spokeperson for the islands right to self-determination. Baldorioty

received his elementary schooling in San Juan. He went to Madrid

on a scholarship and completed studies in Physical and Mathematical

Sciences. He then went to France and studied in the Central School

of Arts and Manufactures in Paris. In 1853 he returned to Puerto Rico

and became a teacher in Botany and Maritime Sciences at the School

of Commerce, Agriculture, and Maritime Studies in San Juan. From

1860 to 1865 he also was a delegate to the Spanish parliament. He is

considered the father of Puerto Rican Autonomy from Spain, although

his achievement was superseded by the U.S. annexation. The statesman

fought to abolish slavery and establish a constitution guaranteeing

the rights of islanders. In 1870 he was elected to be a deputy to the

Spanish Cortes, supporting abolitionist and autonomist causes. He

founded and edited the magazine “Asuntos de Puerto Rico” and

contributed to “Correo de Española.” He returned to Puerto Rico in

1873 where he founded the newspaper “El Derecho” in Ponce. In 1878,

he started a political weekly again in Ponce, “La Crónica,” as a vehicle

for his autonomist ideology. In 1887, he founded the Autonomist

Party, whose platform advocated home government for Puerto Rico

and representation in the Spanish parliament. But that year also saw a

crackdown against political dissenters and Baldorioty was accused of

publishing seditious propaganda and jailed in El Morro Castle. Despite

his rapid release, his imprisonment affected his health and he died soon

after on September 20, 1889 in Ponce.

 

Barbosa, José Celso

(1857–1921), doctor and politician, was born on July 27, 1857 in

Bayamón. A gifted mulatto medical doctor, Barbosa is better known

as the father of the Statehood for Puerto Rico movement. He formed

the pro-statehood Republican Party (July 4, 1899) in the aftermath of

the Spanish-American War. He was the first black to attend Puerto

Rico’s prestigious Jesuit Seminary. In 1893, he founded the first Puerto

Rican “Cooperativa,” named “El Ahorro Colectivo.” In 1899, he

founded the Republican Party of Puerto Rico, advocating for statehood

for the island. In 1907, he established the newspaper “El Tiempo.”

He was a member of the Executive Cabinet from 1900 to 1917 and

held a seat in the Puerto Rican Senate from 1917 until his death on

December, 1921 in San Juan.

 

Batista, Tomás

(1935–), sculptor, was born in Luquillo. Batista, a notorious sculptor has created several famous

Puerto Rican monuments such as: “El Jíbaro Puertorriqueño” Monument in Cayey, Luis A.

Ferré Highway, Eugenio María de Hostos in Mayagüez, Nemesio R. Canales in Jayuya, Chuíto

el de Cayey in Cayey, Rafael Hernández in Bayamón, among others. In 1991, Luquillo City Hall

assigned permanent exhibits for some of Batista works.

Benitez, Maria Bibiana (Maria Bibiana Benitez Constanza)

(1783–1873), poet, was born on December 10, 1783 in Aguadilla. She is known as the first

Puerto Rican woman poet. In 1832, Maria published her first poem, “La Ninfa de Puerto Rico”.

She also became the first Puerto Rican woman to write a dramatic play, “La Cruz del Morro”

(The Cross of El Morro), inspired in the defense of San Juan against the Dutch attack in 1625.

Among her best known poems are “Soneto” (1839), “Diálogo Alegórico” (1858) and “A La

Vejez.” She died on April 18, 1873 in San Juan.

 

Berrios Martínez, Rubén

(1930–), lawyer, politician and current president of the Puerto Rican

Independence Party (PIP), was born on June 21, 1939 in Aibonito. He

was the head of the Puerto Rican Independence Party (1970-93) and a

member of the Puerto Rican Senate (1972-1973). In 1971 he was jailed

for three months for a sit-in on the island of Culebra protesting the US

military presence there.

 

Betances, Ramón Emeterio

(1827–1898), politician, was born on April 8, 1827 in Cabo Rojo. He

received his primary and secondary education in private schools. His

mother died when he was young and his father sent him to France.

After receiving his medical degree from the University of Paris in

1855, Betances returned to Puerto Rico and founded a hospital and

worked to save Puerto Ricans from the ravages of a cholera epidemic.

He also founded a clandestine society dedicated to the liberation of the

slaves. The Spanish colonial government exiled him for these activities

several times. In 1867, he fled to the present-day Dominican Republic

where he founded the Revolutionary Committee of Puerto Rico.

The following year he organized an armed expedition that led to the

abortive insurrection of September 23, known as the Grito de Lares.

When the insurrection failed Betances went back to Paris where he

dedicated to work for the independence of Puerto Rico. His works “La

Viérge de Borinquen” (1859) and “Les Voyages de Scaldado” (1890),

written in French, and “La Botijuela” (1863), in Spanish, symbolically

portrayed the political aspirations of Puerto Rico during this period.

Although he spent his remaining years away from his homeland, he

viewed the abolition of slavery there on March 22, 1873 with great

satisfaction. For his contributions to literature, the French government

awarded him its Legion of Honor. Died on September 18, 1898 in

Nevilly, France and is remains returned to Puerto Rico in 1920 where

they were buried in his birthplace.

 

Birriel, Felipe

(1916–1994), was the tallest man in Puerto Rican history, with an unconfirmed height of 2.413

meters or seven feet eleven inches (7′ 11″), was born in Carolina on August 16, 1916. He was

known as “El Gigante de Carolina” (The Giant of Carolina). He died from a heart attack on

March 15, 1994, at the age of 77, in Carolina.

 

Blanco, Tomás

(1900–1975), was a writer, historian and essayists, was born on December 9, 1900 in San

Juan. Blanco received his primary and secondary education in Catholic schools. He moved

to the United States where he enrolled in the Georgetown University to study medicine. He

traveled throught Europe and in Spain he started writing literary and music criticism. After his

return to the island, he wrote about Puerto Rican subjects. Blanco is best known for writing

what is considered to be one of the best histories of the island, “Prontuario Historico de Puerto

Rico” (1935). Among other Blanco’s recognized works are “El Prejuicio Racial en Puerto

Rico” (Racial Prejudice in Puerto Rico), “Los Aguinaldos del Infante” (Christmas Stories for

Children), “Cuentos sin Ton ni Son” and “Los Vates.” He died on April 12, 1975 in San Juan.

Bracetti, Mariana

(1825–1903), patriot and leader of the Puerto Rico independence movement in the 1860’s,

was born in Añasco. She is believed to have crafted the first Puerto Rican flag. The flag was

considered a symbol of revolution and a call to overthrow the Spanish government on the island

and establish a sovereign republic.

On September 23, 1868, the flag was flown on the Lares church during a revolt, later known as

the Grito de Lares. The flag was designed by Dr. Ramón Emeterio Betances. Many years later,

in 1952, the flag’s design was adopted as the official flag of Lares. The flag was divided in the

middle by a white cross. The two lower corners were red and the two upper corners were blue.

There was a white star in the upper left blue corner. Mariana Bracetti died in Añasco in 1903

and was buried in the Plaza of Añasco. There is a monument honoring her on the spot where

she is buried.

Brau, Salvador

(1842–1912), historian, journalist, sociologist, novelist, and essayists,

was born on January 11, 1842 in Cabo Rojo. He wrote an earlier

history of the island, “Historia de Puerto Rico” (1904). He was named

the Official Historian for Puerto Rico from 1903 until his dead. His

books are considered an important contribution to the study of Puerto

Rican history, including “Puerto Rico and its History” (1894), “The

Colonization of Puerto Rico,” and “The Foundation of Ponce.”

Other works include: “Writings on the Puerto Rican Flora”, “Report

on the Sugar Cane Disease,” “Puerto Rican Flora,” “The Puerto

Rican Indians,” “Fertility of Puerto Rican Women,” “Demographic

Study,” “The Foundation of Aguadilla,” and “The Foundation of

Bayamon”.” He died on November 5, 1912 in San Juan.

Burgos, Julia de (Julia Constancia Burgos García)

(1914–1953), teacher, journalist and poet, was born on February 17,

1914 in Carolina. One of Puerto Rico’s leading 20th-century poets,

influenced by Luis Llorens Torres, Clair Lair, Rafael Alberti and

Pablo Neruda, she was a prominent member of the literary Vanguard

movement in San Juan in the late 1930s. She was also an advocate for

the independance of Puerto Rico. She graduated from the University

of Puerto Rico with a teaching degree. Her literary work placed her

among the greatest poets of Hispanic-America. Her best-known

poem is ” El Río Grande de Loiza”  . Other well-known poems

are “Canción Desnuda,” “Te Quiero,” “A Julia de Burgos,” “Yo

Misma fui mi Ruta,” and “Tres Caminos.” She published several books

among which are; “Poemas exactos de mi misma,” “Poemas en Veinte

Zurcos,” and “Cancién de la verdad sencilla.” Burgos died on July 6,

1953 in New York City, at age 39.

 

Campeche y Jordan, José

(1752–1809), painter, was born on January 6, 1752 in San Juan. Son

of a freed slave and a Canary Islander. This “Sanjuanero” became

one of Puerto Rico’s most eminent painters. Trained by Luis Paret, a

court painter banished from Spain, Campeche produced approximately

400 paintings, thereby earning a reputation as “the most gifted of

Latin American Rococo artist.” Devoutly religious, he often painted

for churches but was also a noted portrait painter of subjects ranging

from leading politicians to the local landed gentry. Some of his most

famous paintings are: the portraits of Ramón de Castro and Miguel

A. de Ustáriz, The Virgin of Belen, The Virgin of the Rosary, Saint

John the Baptist, The Sacred Family, The Bishop of San Francisco

de la Cuerda, and The Vision of Saint Anthony. Campeche died on

November 7, 1809 in San Juan.

 

Canales, Nemesio

(1878–1923), essayist, poet, journalists, novelist, playwright and politician, was born on

December 18, 1878 in Jayuya. He was a member of the Puerto Rican House of Representatives

and he wrote a column called “Paliques” for the newspaper of which this article formed part. He

published a selection of these articles in a book by the same name. He died on September 14,

1923 in New York.

 

Capetillo, Luisa

(1879–1922), labor organizer in Puerto Rico, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, and the U.S., was

born on October 28, 1879 in Arecibo. A free thinker, a feminist, an anarchist and a workers’

and women’s rights activist, in the early 1900’s. She believed that good wages were a worker’s

right and insisted that women should have the same right to vote as men. Although she is best

known today for being the first woman to wear pants in public. In 1919, she challenged the

mainstream society by wearing pants in public and sent to jail for what was then considered to

be a “crime”, but, the judge later dropped the charges against her. On April 10, 1922, Capetillo

died of tuberculosis in Río Piedras, Puerto Rico, at the age of 42.

 

Carreño, Victor A.

(1956–), a NASA Aerospace Engineer and Aerospace Technologist, was born in Guaynabo

in 1956. He holds the patent for the Single Frequency Multi-transmitter Telemetry System. Dr.

Victor A. Carreño received a Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering from the

University of Puerto Rico in 1979. Upon graduation, he applied to and was hired by the NASA

Langley Research Center.

Carreño is credited with inventing and developing the Single Frequency Multi-transmitter

Telemetry System in 1983.

In 1985, Victor obtained his Masters Degree in Electrical Engineering from Old Dominion

University. In 1997, he received a Ph.D. in Computer Science from the University of Cambridge

in England. His primary research is the verification of safety critical systems.

 

Clemente, Roberto

(1934–1972), baseball player, was born on August 18, 1934 in

Carolina. He was a baseball player with the Pittsburgh Pirates (1955-

1972), he compiled a lifetime batting average of .317, hit 240 home

runs and was considered baseball’s premier defensive outfielder.

Clemente won four National League batting titles (1961, 1964, 1965,

1966). He was the league’s Most Valuable Player in 1966 and was

selected to the All-Star team 12 times. He also won 12 Gold Glove

awards as the NL’s premier right fielder, and he was frequently cited

by experts as having the best outfielder’s throwing arm they had ever

seen. After he obtained his 3,000th hit in the last game of the 1972

season. On December 31, 1972, Clemente’s life was tragically cut

short when an airplane loaded with supplies for earthquake victims

in Managua, Nicaragua, crashed off the Puerto Rican coast. He was

elected to the Hall of Fame in 1973.

 

Coll y Toste, Cayetano

(1850–1930), historian and writer, was born on November, 30 1850 in Arecibo. Among

his many written works are: “El Boletin Historico de Puerto Rico” (Historical Boletin of

Puerto Rico), “Cronicas de Arecibo” (Cronicals of Arecibo) and “Legendas y Tradiciones

Puertorriqueñas” (Puerto Rican Legends and Traditions). In 1913, Toste was named Official

Historian of Puerto Rico. His research into the history of Puerto Rico gave people an insight

into the island from the times of the Tainos up until 1927. One of his works “The Indo-Antillano

Vocabulary” is valuable in understanding the way of live of the Tainos. His works are required

reading in Puerto Rican high schools and Universities. He died on November 19, 1930 in

Madrid, Spain.

Colón, Jesús

(1901–1974), writer, was born in Cayey. Jesus Colon is credited as being the intellectual

founding father of the “Nuyorican” movement, a group of New York Puerto Rican writers who

flowered in the 1960s and ’70s, including playwright Miguel Piñero and poets Miguel Algarin

and Tato Laviera. He died in 1974 in New York.

Cordero, Angel Tomás, Jr.

(1942–), jockey, was born on November 8, 1942 in Santurce. Cordero is considered one of the

most successful jockeys, he won 7,057 races over 22 years before he retired in 1992. Cordero

also won six Triple Crown races, including three Kentucky Derbies.

Cordero, Rafael

(1790–1868), educator, was born on October 24, 1790 in San Juan.

His great interest and love for reading prepared and helped him to

develop the skills and the capabilities to perform as a primary teacher.

Since the beginning of XIX century he dedicated himself to the

children teaching in his own house, without payment. For 58 years

he maintained this educational center, at Luna Street in San Juan. He

taught them to read, calligraphy, arithmetic and christian (catholic)

instruction. Among the students were: Román Baldorioty de Castro,

Alejandro Tapia y Rivera, José Julian Acosta, Francisco del Valle

Atiles and others. He died on July 5, 1868 in San Juan.

 

Corretjer, Juan Antonio

(1908–1985), poet, journalist and politician, was born on March 3,

1908 in Ciales. Corretjer is considered as one of Puerto Rico’s greatest

poets of the ’30s. He received his primary education in Ciales. From

early age Corretjer showed interest about the island’s political

situation. He joined the “Literary Society of José Gautier Benitez,”

which later renamed to “Nationalist Youth”, while he was still in

elementary school. When he was in the 8th grade, he organized his

first student protest against the American authority in Ciales. As a

result, he was expelled from school and he was forced to go to school

in Vega Baja.

In 1920, when he was only 12 years old, Corretjer wrote his first

poem “Canto a Ciales” (My song to Ciales). In 1924, he published his

first booklet of poems. In 1927, he worked as a journalist for several

newspapers and publications in Puerto Rico, Cuba and the U.S. He

travelled to New York, Cuba, Haiti and Dominican Republic to

endorse other political groups opposed to U.S. dominion and look for

support for Puerto Rico’s independance movement. In 1929, he returns

to Puerto Rico and soon after, in 1930 he met Pedro Albizu Campos

and joins him to work with the Nationalist Party. He was named the

Administrative Secretary of the Nationalist Party. Since then, he

became a faithfull figther for nationalism. Corretjer was jailed several

times because of his political views and activities.

During his reclusion he authored several publications: “Amor de

Puerto Rico” and “Cántico de Guerra” (Song of War), both published

in 1937.

During his long carrier he published several books of

poems: “Agüeybana” (1932), “Versos al Mar de un Hombre de Tierra

Adentro” (1933), “El Leñero” (Timberman; 1944), “Imagen de

Borinquen: Los Primeros Años” (1950), “Tierra Nativa” (Native Land;

1951), “Alabanza en la Torre de Ciales” (1953), “Yerba Bruja”

(Bewitched Grass; 1957) and many more.

In 1978, the Institute of Culture published “Obras Completas”,

Volume I. He died on January 19, 1985 in San Juan. </br.

Dávila, José Antonio

(1898–1941), poet, was born on October 7, 1898 in Bayamón, son of Virgilio Dávila. He

studied medicine but he was known better for his modernist poetry. He published “Vendimia”

(1940) and “Almacén de Baratijas.” He died on December 4, 1941 in Bayamõn.

Dávila, Virgilio (Virgilio Dávila Cabrera)

(1869–1943), poet, teacher and business man, was born on January 28, 1869 in Toa Baja. He

was mayor of Bayamón for a few years. His poetry represents the traditional in Puerto Rican

literature. In 1903, he published his first book of poems, “Patria”, a collection of lyrical portraits

of the island’s landspace, love and Puerto Rican personalities like José de Diego, Federico

Degetau and Lola Rodríguez de Tió. He also published: “Viviendo y Amado” (1912), “Aromas

del Terruño” (1916), “Pueblito de Antes” (1917), and “Un Libro Para Mis Nietos” (A Book for

my Grandchildren; 1928).

Among his best-known poems are “Nostalgia”  , “Elegía de Reyes” and “No Des Tu Tierra al

Extraño.” He died on August 22, 1943 in Bayamón and buried in the Porta Coeli Cemetary.

 

Degetau, Federico

(1862–1914), lawyer, politician, writer, and Puerto Rico’s

first Resident Commissioner of to the United States House of

Representatives from 1900 to 1904, was born on December 5, 1862 in

Ponce. He received is early education in Ponce, and continued studies

in Barcelona, Spain, where he graduated from the law department of

the Central Univeristy of Madrid. He founded the newspaper La Isla de

Puerto Rico.

After returning to the island, Degetau became an active member of

the Autonomist Party, under the leadership of Luis Muñoz Rivera.

In 1895, he was among the party’s four commissioners sent to Spain

to petition for political autonomy for Puerto Rico. The petition was

denied, but an autonomic charter was granted three years later. As

a Resident Commissioner and member of the Committte on Insular

Affairs, he submitted a bill to grant U.S. citizenship to Puerto Rico

residents, but it was denied. He wrote “El Secreto de la Domadora”

(1886), “Que Quijote!,” “Cuentos para el Camino”, “Juventud” (1895)

and “La Injuria” (1893). He died on January 20, 1914 in Santurce, and

was burried in San Juan.

 

Díaz, Justino

(1940–), opera singer, was born on January 29, 1940 in San Juan. He was a soloist for the

choir of the University of Puerto Rico and studied singing at the New England Conservatory of

Music. He has performed with some of the most prestigious orchestras and has participated in

opera movies. He received the Handel Medal, the most important cultural distinction awarded

by the City of New York, as well as the National Cultural Medal awarded by the Puerto Rican

Cultural Institute.

 

Díaz Alfaro, Abelardo

(1919–1999), writer, was born on July 24, 1919 in Caguas. He obtained a degree in Arts from

the Technical Institude of San Germán and continued social work studies in the University of

Puerto Rico. In 1947, he publishes his first collection of stories and stamps of the rural zone of

the island, “Terrazo.” His most notables books include: “Los Perros” (1956), “Mi Isla Soñada”

(1967), “The Green Antilles,” “Campo Alegra,” among others. His books have been translated

into numerous languages. He died on July 22, 1999 in Guaynabo.

 

Diego Martínez, José de

(1866–1921), jurist, poet, journalist, essayist, orator, politician and advocate for Puerto Rico’s

independance, was born on April 16, 1866 in Aguadilla. Considered a brilliant orator, de Diego

was also a major poet, but his claim to fame today rests on his advocacy of independence

for Puerto Rico. He was a founder of the Autonomist Party (1887) and co-founder (with

Luis Muñoz Rivera) of the Unionist Party (1904). His dream was to see the establishment

of a confederation of Spanish-speaking islands in the Caribbean, including the Dominican

Republic. He was president of the House of Delegates (1907-1917) and speaker of the House of

Representatives (1917-1918). He was also the founder of the “Colegio de Agricultura y Artes

Mecánicas de Mayagüez now known as the University of Puerto Rico in Mayagüez.

History considers him a father to both the modern Puerto Rican poetry movement and the

island’s modern independence movement. Works such as “A Laura” and “Postuma” won him

a lasting reputation as Puerto Rico’s finest love poet. His poetry books include “Pomarrosas”

(1904), “Jovillos” (1916), “Cantos de Rebeldía” (1916) and “Cantos del Pitirre,” published

soon after his dead. He died reciting his poem “Último Acto” on July 17, 1921 in New York and

burried in San Juan.

Dueño Colón, Braulio

(1854–1934), musician and composer, was born on March 26, 1854 in San Juan. Dueño is

considered one of Puerto Rico’s greatest composers, his most important contribution is perhaps

the collections of school songs he wrote specifically for the island’s schools, “Canciones

Escolares” (1912), which were co-written with Virgilio Dávila and of Manuel Fernández

Juncos.

Dueño won many literary-musical competitions in the Ateneo Puertorriqueño. Braulio’s best

known dances are “Delia y Belén,” “Patria,” and “La Criolla.” He died on April 4, 1934 in

Bayamón, age 80.

Elzaburu, Manuel

(1851–1892), orator and writer, was born on January 2, 1851 in San Juan. He founded the

Ateneo Puertorriqueño. Elzaburu died on February 12, 1892 in San Juan.

Feliciano, José

(1945–), singer, was born blind on September 10, 1945 in Lares. José has been acclaimed by

critics throughout the world as “the greatest living guitarist.” When he was five, his family

emigrated to New York City. Jose learned to play a concertina at age six, using a handful of

records as his teacher. Later on, he taught himself to play the guitar. Jose has received over forty

gold and platinum records, has won 14 Grammy nominations and six Grammy awards, and

has earned countless prestigious awards the world over. Jose has also been given a star on the

Hollywood Walk of Fame. His most notable songs includes: “Light my Fire,” “Que Sera,” “Feliz

Navidad,” “Rain,” “Chico and the man,” “California Dreamin’,” “Destiny,” “Affirmation,” “Ay

cariño,” “Ponte a cantar,” “Cuando el amor se acaba,” and “Porque te tengo que olvidar?,”

among others.

Figueroa, Narciso

(1906–), musician and composer, was born on October 31, 1906 in Aguadilla. He collected folk

songs and re-orchestrated them for chamber orchestras; his recordings have been sponsored by

the Institute of Puerto Rican Culture. In 1959, he published: “Cancionero de Puerto Rico.”

Fernández Juncos, Manuel

(1846–1928), one of Puerto Rico’s best known journalists, poet and humanitarian, was born on

December 11, 1846 in Oviedo, Spain to Puerto Rican parents. Fernández first wrote for the

newspaper “El Progress” (Progress), and later for the “Porvenir” and “El Clamor del Pueblo.” In

1876, Juncos launched the newspaper “El Buscapie”, campaigning liberal ideas such as free

education for children and adults. The weekly newspaper soon became the most read in the

island. In 1887, he founded the “Revista Puertorriqueña” (The Puerto Rican Magazine),

specializing in the Arts, Sciences and Letters.

Fernandez joined the Autonomist Party and became its secretary. In 1898, when Puerto Rico

was granted autonomy from Spain, he was elected Secretary of State. After the end of the

Spanish-American War he retires from public life and devotes his time to writing about Puerto

Rican traditions and folklore. He published numerous books and essays.

Among his most notable works are: “Tipos y Caracteres” (1882), “De Puerto Rico a Madrid”

(1886), “Costumbres y Tradiciones” (1888), “La Ultima Hornada” (1928), “Libro Cuarto de

Lectura,” and “Canciones Escolares,” which he co-wrote with Virgilio Dávila and Braulio

Dueño Colón.

In 1952, “La Borinqueña”, written by Fernández, became the offical anthem of the

Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.

He held the Presidency of the Puerto Rican Literacy Society, directed the Antillian Academy of

Language and founded the Puerto Rican Red Cross. He died on August 18, 1928 in San Juan.

Ferré Aguayo, Luis Alberto

(1904–2003), engineer, industrialist, politician and philanthropist, was

born on February 17, 1904 in Ponce. He was the third democratically

elected Governor of Puerto Rico (1968-1972). He ran a family cement

company and was elected to the House of Representatives in 1952. In

1967, he founded the New Progressive Party; as its candidate he won

the governorship in 1968, breaking the Popular Democratic Party’s 28-

year domination. His re-election campaign in 1972 became a virtual

referendum on statehood, which Ferré advocated. Ferré was defeated

by Rafael Hernández Colén, who pledge for the continuation of the

commonwealth status. He died on October 21, 2003.

 

Ferré, Rosario

(1938), writer, poet and essayist, was born in 1938 in Ponce. On 1960, she completed her

studies in English Literature from the Manhattanville College, and earned a master in Spanish

and Latin-American Literature from the University of Puerto Rico. From the 1970’s she began

to write, first as an editor for the Zona de Carga y Descarga Magazine, later on she became a

continuous collaborator for newspapers, El Nuevo Día and the San Juan Star. Her first work was

the novel “Maldito Amor,” which won the Libertur Award in 1992. Her works include: “Papeles

de Pandora,” “La Casa de la Laguna” (1996), and “Vecindarios Excentricos” (1998).

Ferrer, José Vicente

(1912–1992), actor, director, and producer noted for his Academy Award winning performance

in the film Cyrano de Bergerac (1950), was born on January 8, 1909 in Santurcce.

Ferrer made his film debut with Ingrid Bergman in Joan of Arc in 1948, for which he received

his first Academy Award nomination for “Best Supporting Actor”. Active both in the theater and

films, Ferrer portrayed Iago in a stage production of Othello (1943) and Toulouse-Lautrec in the

film Moulin Rouge (1952). He directed the plays Stalag 17 (1951) and The Shrike (1952). Later

films include Dune (1984). Died on January 26, 1992 in Miami, Florida.

Gautier Benítez, José

(1848–1880), poet, was born on April 12, 1848 in Caguas. Considered the greatest poet of

the romanticism period in Puerto Rico. He died on January 24, 1880 in San Juan.

Enríquez, Miguel

(ca. early 1700s–1800s), Spanish naval captain, pirate, was born in Puerto Rico. This hero, a

mulatto who was one a shoemaker, eventually became a corsair and then experienced many

adventures as captain of a Spanish warship. He may have participated in conquering the offshore

island of Vieques.

 

Hernández, Rafael

(1892–1965), composer, was born on October 24, 1892 in Aguadilla.

He was one of the most important figures in 20th-century popular

Puerto Rican music, dividing his career between Puerto Rico, the U.S.

Works such as the “Lamento Borincano”, “Capullito de Alelí”, and

his masterpiece “Preciosa” were thought to express the soul of Puerto

Rico. He died on December 11, 1965 in San Juan.

Hernández Colén, Rafael

(1936–), former governor of Puerto Rico (1973-1977, 1985-1993),

was born on October 24, 1936 in Ponce. An honors graduate of Johns

Hopkins Univ. (1956) and the Univ. of Puerto Rico law school (1959),

he practiced law in Ponce, and was elected to the senate in 1968. He

was a protégé of Luis Muñoz Marín. He served as president of the

senate and as president of the Popular Democratic party. In 1972 he

decisively defeated Gov. Luis Ferré to become, at 36, the island’s

youngest governor. He sponsored ambitious programs of economic

development and housing construction, and he strongly opposed U.S.

President Ford’s wish to make Puerto Rico the 51st state. He wanted to

make Puerto Rico less dependent economically on the United States.

He was reelected in 1984 and 1988.

 

Hostos y Bonilla, Eugenio María de

(1839–1903), educator and politician, was born on January 11, 1839

in Rio Cañas, Mayagüez. Hostos received his elementary schooling in

San Juan and then went to Spain for both secondary studies and law

school. Hostos was educated in Spain and became active in republican

politics as a university student there. He left Spain when that country’s

new constitution (1869) refused to grant independence to Puerto Rico.

He went to the United States, where he became editor of the Cuban

independence journal La Revolucién in 1870. In Santo Domingo (1879-

88) he founded the first normal school and introduced advanced

teaching methods, but nine years later he had to leave the country

because of his liberal views. He subsequently traveled widely

throughout South America and taught in Chile. As professor in the

Univ. of Chile, he was instrumental in having women admitted. He

returned to the United States in 1898 and participated actively in the

Cuban independence movement, but his hopes for Puerto Rican

independence after the Spanish-American War (1898) were

disappointed when the U.S. government rejected his proposal for

autonomy and instead established its rule over the island as a territory.

Hostos returned to the Dominican Republic. Hostos played a major

role in reorganizing the educational system of the Dominican

Republic. He is widely known throughout Latin America as a publicist

of civic reforms, as a rationalist in ethics who believed that to be

civilized and to be moral is the same thing, and as a writer of sober,

graceful, and didactic prose. He wrote many essays and treatises on

social-science topics and was one of the first systematic sociologists in

Latin America. His most important was “La Peregrinacién de Bayoán”

(1863), a seminal work promoting Cuban independence and revealing

on a fiction tone restrictions of the Spanish Colonial regime. The book

was suppressed by the Spanish Government. He was also known as a

supporter of women’s rights. He even wrote his own epitaph: “I wish

that they will say: In that island [Puerto Rico] a man was born who

loved truth, desired justice, and worked for the good of men.” Other

works: Moral social (1888); Lecciones de Derecho Constitucional

(1887); and a superb essay, Hamlet (1873). He died on August 11,

1903 in Santo Domingo.

 

Juliá, Raúl (Raúl Rafael Carlos Juliá y Arcelay)

(1944–1994), actor, was born on March 9, 1944 in San Juan. Juliá proved his versatility on both

stage and screen. Raul Julia made his New York City debut in 1964 in a Spanish-language play.

He worked on: Joseph Papp’s New York Shakespeare Festival Macbeth (1966), Two Gentlemen

of Verona (1971) for which he won the first of his four Tony nominations, Mack the Knife in

The Threepenny Opera (1976). Julia’s film career, which began in 1971, ran the gamut from

the comic–The Gumball Rally (1976), The Addams Family (1991), and its sequel Addams

Family Values (1993)–to the biographical–Romero (1988), in which he played the Salvadoran

archbishop, and The Burning Season (1994), about Brazilian labor leader Chico Mendes–to the

tragic–Kiss of the Spider Woman (1985). He died on October 24, 1994 in New York.

 

Laguerre Velez, Enrique A.

(1905–2005), writer, poet, teacher and critic, was born on July 15,

1905 in Moca. He is the best-known novelist of the 20th century. He

graduated from the University of Puerto Rico with a degree in Arts

(BA in 1938 and MA in 1941) and a doctoral degree in Arts from

the University of Columbia (1949) in New York. His first and best

known novel, “La Llamarada” (1935) is considered the most important

novel of the Generation of the ’30s, it describes the political, economic

and social conditions that prevailded in the island. Laguerre was also

known as an advocate for environmental conservation. Laguerre is

considered the most important Puerto Rican novelist, among his many

novels are: “Solar Montoya” (1941), “La Resaca” (1949), “Los Amos

Benévolos” (1976) (The Benevolent Masters), and “Los Gemelos”

(1992). He was nominated for the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1999.

He died on June 16, 2005.

 

Llorens Torres, Luis

(1876–1944), poet, journalist, playwright, and politician, was born on May 14, 1876 in Juana

Díaz. He is the best known of Puerto Rican poets for his beautiaful and romantic work. He was

a lawyer by profession, having studied in Spain. His work is known for its “criollismo”, a kind

of nationalism, and usually writing about the idiosincracy of the island. His books include Al

Pie de la Alhambre, Sonetos Sinfónicos, Voces de la Campana Mayor, and Alturas de America.

His “decimas” are works not only of art but of love. Among his most famous poems are Valle de

Collores and Canción de las Antillas. He died on June 16, 1944 in Santurce.

 

Lopez Irizarry, Ramón

(1910–), the inventor of the original “Coco Lopez”, was born in 1910 in San Juan. He was an

agricultural professor for the University of Puerto Rico. In the early 1950s, with some grant

funds from the government (awarded to University of Puerto Rico), he worked on his idea, He

developed a way to extract the cream from the pulp of coconut, which at the time was a difficult

task. He did this by blending the cream of coconuts with the exact proportion of natural cane

sugar, creating the original “Coco Lopez”.

Coco Lopez soon became the basis for the famous “Piña Colada” drink, which made its first

appearance in 1954.

Lopez Irizarry became a millionaire and his product “Coco Lopez” has expanded its distribution

into 50 countries including Europe, Japan, Central America and the United States. Coco Lopez

can be found at corners stores and supermarkets around the world.

 

Manrique Cabrera, Francisco

(1908-1978), poet, was born on December 25, 1908 in Bayamón. Poet and essayist. He

published “Poemas de mi Tierra” and was the first author of “Historia de la literatura

puertorriqueña”. He died on June 15, 1978.

 

Marqués, René

(1919-1979), writer and playwright, was born on October 4, 1919 in Arecibo. Marqués was a

distinguished playwright, short story writer, novelist, and essayist. His best-known play, “La

Carreta”, opened in 1951 and helped secure his reputation as the leading literary figure in

Puerto Rico during 1950s. In 1959 he published three plays together in the collection Teatro.

These were “La muerte no entrará en palacio”, “Un niño azul para esa sombra”, and “Los soles

truncos”. He died on March 22, 1979 in San Juan.

 

Meléndez, Concha

(1895–1983), poet, writer, professor and a prestigious critic of Puerto Rican and

Hispanic American literature, was born on January 21, 1895 in Caguas. She was an

elementary and secondary school teacher. Her essays, a product of serious investigations,

have been published in the most important publications on Hispanic literature. Her

writings have been compiled in fifteen volumes by the Editorial Cultural. Some of these

include: “Asomante”, “Amado Nervo” and “La inquietud sosegada”. She died on June 26,

1983 in San Juan.

 

Miranda, Elsa

(unknown), actress and singer. She was the most famous Miss Chiquita

Banana. In 1945 and 1946, she made numerous personal appearances

in the movies, in radio and commercials.

 

Morel Campos, Juan

(1857–1896), musician and composer, was born on May 16, 1857 in

Ponce. He was the most important figure in Puerto Rican music of

the 19th century. His first teacher was none other than the illustrious

pianist-composer Manuel G. Tavarez (a Parisian trained composer

and former pupil of M. Alphonse Laurent and M. Daniel Auber), who

also wrote some of the most beloved Danza repertory for the piano.

He composed countless danzas, the dance (along with the bomba and

plena) most closely associated with Puerto Rico. “Felices Días”, “Vano

Empeño”, “Mis penas”, “Tormento”, “Alma Sublime”, “La Lira

Ponceña”, “Alma Sublime” and many others are among his most

famous compositions. It’s calculated that Morel created more than 550

compositions of which more than 300 are danzas. He died on May 12,

1896 in Ponce.

Moreno, Rita

(1931–), actress, was born on December 11, 1931 in Humacao. This Puerto Rican actress has

secured a distinct place in movies, notably because of her role in Robert Wise’s 1961 film West

Side Story about Puerto Ricans in New York, which brought her fame and an Oscar as best

supporting actress. She also appeared in such hits as Singin’ in the Rain (1956), and Tennessee

William’s Summer and Smoke (1961), starring Geraldine Page. Her work in television included

appearances on The Muppet Show and The Rockford Files. Rita became the first woman ever to

win all four biggest awards in show business: Oscar (movies), Tony (Broadway Theater), Emmy

(TV), and Grammy (recording).

Moscoso, Teodoro

(1910–1992), politician, was born on November 26, 1910 in Barcelona, Spain. He was an

early ally of Luis Muñoz Marín and assisted in the foundation of the Popular Democratic Party

(1938). He was best known for his work for economic reform in Puerto Rico, particularly the

Fomento Económico (Operation Bootstrap), which he headed from 1942-1960 and 1973-1976.

He died on June 15, 1992.

 

Muñoz Marín, Luis

(1898–1980), poet, journalist and politician, was born on February 18,

1898 in San Juan. Educated at Georgetown University in Washington,

D.C., United States, Muñoz Marín was once known as the New Deal’s

Golden Boy. Founder of Popular Democratic Party (1938). Although

he had started out as a supporter of Puerto Rican independence,

he later opted for the commonwealth status as economically more

viable. Muñoz Marín worked closely with the U.S.-appointed

governor, Rexford G. Tugwell, to improve housing, farming, and

industrial conditions. He campaigned for land redistribution from

large landowners to small farmers and claimed islanders were not

yet ready for economic independence. The slogan “Bread, land, and

liberty” won a large following among the poor. He began “Operation

Bootstrap,” to attract mainland business investment through the

Puerto Rican Industrial Development Corporation. As Puerto Rico’s

first elected governor (1949-65), he helped draft its constitution and

in 1952 presided over its attaining the status of a self-governing

Commonwealth. He was reelected as governor three times; Muñoz

Marin served in this post from 1949 to 1965. In 1960 his election

was opposed by the Roman Catholic Church in Puerto Rico, which

denounced him for advocating the teaching of birth control; he was

easily reelected despite the opposition. In December 1963 he received

the U.S. Presidential Medal of Freedom. He did not run for reelection

in 1964, but served once again in the Senate of Puerto Rico. He died on

April 30, 1980 in San Juan.

 

Muñoz Rivera, Luis

(1859–1916), poet, journalist and politician, was born on July 17,

1859 in Barranquitas. Father of Luis Muñoz Marín. He founded

the newspaper La Democracia, which crusaded for Puerto Rican

freedom from Spanish domination, later edited by his son Luis Muñoz

Marín. Muñoz Rivera was president of Puerto Rico’s Liberal Party

and a leading spokesman for autonomy. A leader in the campaign for

independence from Spain, he obtained (1897) a charter, which was

never put into effect, that granted some autonomy to Puerto Ricans.

He founded the Federal Party in Puerto Rico in 1899. Heading the first

Puerto Rican cabinet under U.S. occupation, Muñoz Rivera opposed

military governorship and pleaded for greater self-government. Faced

with bitter opposition in Puerto Rico, he moved to New York City

and published the Puerto Rico Herald, which expounded the island’s

problems. As resident commissioner of Puerto Rico in Washington,

D.C. (1910-16), he obtained U.S. citizenship for Puerto Ricans. He

died just before passage of the Jones Bill, for which he had fought.

He is the best of the Puerto Rican lyricist and political poets. His

most important work was his book of poems Tropicales. He died on

November 15, 1916 in San Juan.

 

Oller, Francisco

(1833–1917), painter, was born on June 17, 1833 in Bayamón. Greatly

influenced by the European art world, Oller studied in Spain and Paris,

although it meant abandoning his wife and children for 11 years.

Following such painters as Picasso and Cézanne, Oller became the first

Latin American impressionist, adapting their obsession with light and

color to tropical skies. He was also a realistic painter of landscapes and

still lifes in Puerto Rico, brilliant capturing the local flora. His bestknown work “El Velorio” (The Wake) (1893), which was shown at the

Paris Salon in 1895. He died on May 17, 1917 in San Juan.

 

Palés Matos, Luis

(1898–1959), poet, was born on March 20, 1898 in Guayama. He was one of the creators of

Afro-Antillian poetry, which introduced African rhythms and words into the Puerto Rican poetic

idiom. Works such as “Tuntún de Pasa y Grifería” and “Ultimos Poemas” led many to think him

Puerto Rico’s most important 20th-century poet. His black or negroid poetry is so well known

that people forget the exquisite works he produced in other genre. Among his best known

poems are “Esa Mujer,” “Danza Negra,” “Majestad Negra,” “Mujer Encinta,” and “Pero Ahora,

Mujer.” He supported himself by working as a civil servant. He died on Febraury 23, 1959 in

Santurce.

 

Pedreira, José Enrique

(1904–1959), musician and composer, was born on February 1, 1904 in San Juan. His major

works includes: “Valses de Concierto”, ballet “Jardín de Piedra”, “Elegía India, Poema y

Souvenir”, among others.

 

Power y Giralt, Ramón

(1775–1813), Admiral Spanish Navy, was born on October 21,

1775 in San Juan. In 1810, Ramón was elected and sent to Spain

as delegate, becoming the first Puerto Rican delegate sent to the

Spanish Cortes (parliament). He died on June 10, 1813 in Cádiz,

Spain.

Puente, Tito (Ernest Anthony Puente Jr.)

(1923-2000), musician, was born on April 20 in New York City, of Puerto Rican parents. He

formed what became the Tito Puente Orchestra and became a leader of the mambo and cha-chacha fads in the 1950s and for the next five decades helped define Latin jazz in the United States.

He recorded more than 100 albums and won five Grammys in his more than 60 years in the

music business. Some fusing Latin with other musical styles and traditions. He died on May 31,

2000 in New York.

 

Quintón, José Ignacio

(1881–1925), musician, pianist and composer, was born Febraury 1, 1881 in Caguas. His major

works includes: “Confía,” “Mi Estrella,” “Amor Imposible,” “El Coqui,” among others. He died

on December 19, 1925 in Coamo.

Rincón de Gautier, Felisa

(1897–1994), the first woman in history to be elected mayor of a capital city in all the

Americas, was born on January 9, 1897 in Ceiba. She assisted Luis Muñoz Marín in forming the

Popular Democratic Party in the 1930s, but was best known for being the first woman mayor

of San Juan (1946-1969). Her weekly open-houses at her official residence and such gestures

as flying snow to San Juan for children’s Christmas parties made her enormously popular. In

1953 the League of American Women gave her its Woman of the Year Award. She died on

September 16, 1994 in San Juan.

Rivera, Chita (Dolores Conchita Figueroa del Rivero)

(1933–), actress and winner of 2 Tony awards, was born on January 23, 1933 in Washington,

D.C. of Puerto Rican descent (father). This Puerto Rican/American actress made her Broadway

debut in Call Me Madam (1952) and won the Tony Award as best actress for her Broadway

role in Kiss of the Spider Woman. “The ageless hoofer” once danced for choreographer George

Balanchine with blood-soaked ballet shoes.

Rodríguez, Juan “Chi-chi”

(1937–), golfer, was born on October 23, 1937 in Río Piedras. Rodríguez began as a caddy at

age 6, and practiced on tin cans with a homemade golf club fashioned from a branch of a guava

tree. It has been said that Puerto Rican golf was born with “Chichi,” who came to prominence in

the 1960s, when he was one of the top ten in the Professional Golf Circuit. In 1967 he published

Chichi’s Secrets of Power Golf.

Rodríguez, Pedro

(1953–), inventor, was born in 1953 in Bayamón. Rodriguez is currently the Director of the

Test Laboratory in the Engineering Directorate at Marshall Center (NASA) and inventor of a

portable, battery-operated lift seat for people suffering from knee arthritis.

He earned a bachelors degree in mechanical engineering in 1976, from the University of Puerto

Rico in Mayagüez. Soon after, he was hired by NASA as an engineer.

Rodriguez obtained his Masters degree in Mechanical Engineering in 1986, from the University

of Alabama. In 1997, he received his doctorate in Civil Engineering, from the University of

Mississippi.

Rodriguez was the leader of the Solid Rocket Booster accident investigation team following

the Space Shuttle Columbia accident in February 2003 and was also the project manager for the

Space Launch Initiative program.

Rodríguez de Tío, Lola

(1843–1924), poet, was born on September 14, 1843 in San Germán.

This was the first Puerto Rican -born poet to establish a reputation

throughout the West Indies. In 1868, inspired by the call for Puerto

Rican independence known as the “Grito de Lares,” she wrote patriotic

lyrics to the existing tune of “La Borinqueña.” In 1876 she and her

family moved to Mayagüez where she published her first book of

poetry, “Mis cantares”, which sold 2,500 copies. She is best known for

her patriotic poetry about Puerto Rico, as well as Cuba where she lived

for many years. She was elected a member of the Cuban Academy

of Arts and Letters. Rodríguez de Tio’s most famous poem, “Cuba

y Puerto Rico Son” (Cuba and Puerto Rico Are), was first published

in the collection “Mi Libro de Cuba” (My Book of Cuba) in 1893.

She died on November 10, 1924 in La Habana, Cuba. Since her death

she has been recognized for her suggestion that Puerto Ricans use

the Cuban flag with its colors reversed as the model for their own

standard.

 

Rosa-Nieves, Cesáreo

(1901–1974), poet and educator, was born in Juana Díaz. He graduated from the University

of Puerto Rico with Bachelor’s degree in Arts and Education (1927) and a Master’s degree

in Letters. In 1944, he received the degree of Doctor of Philosophy and Letters from the

Autonomous University of Mexico. Among his most known works are “Tres Baladas en Luna

de Vísperas” (1954), “Siete Caminos en Luna de Sueños” (1957) and “Los Nísperos del Alba

Maduraron” (1959). He died on October 3, 1974 in San Juan.

 

Sánchez, Luis Rafael

(1936), essayist, playwright, and novelist, was born in Humacao. He was the Puerto Rican writer

with the greatest International reputation in the second half of the 20th century. Considered to be

the greatest Puerto Rican playwright of modern times.

 

Stahl, Agustín

(1842–1917), doctor and scientist, was born on January 21, 1842 in Aguadilla. He studied

with great enthusiasm Puerto Rico’s flora and fauna. He shared information with the

Natural History Museum of Germany, and with other important scientific centers. Some

of his literature are: “Los Indios Borinqueños”, (Prehistoria); “Estudios sobre la Flora de

P.R.”; “Las Talamifloras”; “Las Leguminosas”; “Las Calcifloras”; “Las Rubiasas”; “Las

Gamopetalos”; “Fundación de Bayamón”; “Fundación de Aguadilla”; “Estudios sobre las

enfermedades de la caña”; “Estudios sobre la enfermedad de Federico III de Alemania”;

and “La fecundidad de la mujer en Puerto Rico”. He died on July 12, 1917 in Bayamón.

 

Tapía y Rivera, Alejandro

(1826–1882), poet, playwright and journalist, was born on November 12, 1826 in San Juan.

Today, Tapía is considered the father of Puerto Rican literature. His memories, “Mis memorias,”

first published in 1927, many years after his death. He died on July 19, 1882 in San Juan.

Tavarez, Manuel Gregorio

(1843–1883), composer, was born on November 28, 1843 in San Juan. Tavarez is one of

the best known danza composers and considered the “Father of the Puerto Rican Danzas.”

He died on July 1, 1883 at age 39 in Ponce.

 

Torres, Edwin

(1931–), jurist and novelist, was born to Puerto Rican immigrants in a New York tenement.

After attending Brooklyn College he was eventually appointed to the New York Supreme

Court, where he made many tough decisions. His most celebrated case was in 1991 – -the

Brian Watkins case- in which a young tourist from Utah was murdered on a New York subway

platform. He also wrote such novels as “Carlito’s Way, Q & A,” and “After Hours.”

 

Zeno Gandía, Manuel

(1885–1930), writer, was born on January 10, 1885 in Arecibo. One of Puerto Rico’s

outstanding novelists, Zeno Gandía is known today primarily for the novel “La Charcha” (The

Pond), first published in 1894. His major works were published in a collection called “Crónicas

de un mundo enfermo” (Chronicles of a Sick World). He died in 1930 in Arecibo.

 

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