10 Best Portuguese Authors Of All Time

Are you interested in learning more about different types of literature? Take a look at some of the top Portuguese authors you should know.

Portugal is a country that has a tremendous amount of history. Even though many people think it is simply the country that borders West Spain, Portugal has a lot of literary history. Portuguese writers have impacted numerous generations of authors, and Portuguese literature has evolved significantly during the past few centuries.

Whether you read these books in English, Spanish, or Portuguese, both the 19th and 20th centuries were an excellent time for the evolution and growth of Portuguese writing. When you have finished with the best Portuguese writers, check out how they do it over the border with our article on the best Spanish authors.

Popular Portuguese Authors

Best Portuguese Authors

Take a look at a few of the top Portuguese authors below, and learn more about why they have served as an inspiration to numerous officers throughout the years.

1. José Saramago

Jose Saramago
José Saramago

One of the first Portuguese writers you need to explore is José Saramago. If you have any interest in literature, there is a good chance you have already heard of him. Many of his books have been translated into English, and he even won the Nobel Prize for literature back in 1998. He was the first Portuguese author to earn this prize, and he is widely considered one of the most influential writers of the past century.

He was born in Azinhaga, a relatively small village, in 1922. He moved to Lisbon as a child, where he lived for most of his life. He published his first book in 1947, but he made his mark as a Portuguese novelist and poet. He even won the Portuguese PEN Club Award, one of the most prestigious awards for Portuguese literature.

During his career, he published a wide variety of renowned novels. One of his most famous works is titled The Year of the Death of Ricardo Reis. This book is known for its direct, elegant, and witty style. 

Year of the Death of Ricardo Reis
  • Saramago, Jose (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 358 Pages - 01/01/1998 (Publication Date) - Harvill Pr (Publisher)

2. Fernando Pessoa

Fernando Pessoa is a unique Portuguese writer. He published works under dozens of different pen names during his career, which he referred to as heteronyms. Every name had a different back story and a different style of writing. He is considered a modernist writer, and he essentially put Portuguese writing on the map during the 20th century. 

He was born in Lisbon in 1888, and his family moved to South Africa when he was young. His stepfather served at the Portuguese consulate in South Africa, and South Africa heavily influenced his writing growing up. Because he lived in South Africa, many of his early works were published in English. One of his most famous books, titled Mensagem, is a collection of his poems. 

His landmark work is called The Book of Disquiet. It was not published until he had already passed away, but it still serves as an influence on many Portuguese authors to this day. If you enjoyed reading this post, you might enjoy our list of the best Spanish authors. You can also use the search bar at the top right of the page to search for authors in a country or region you are interested in.

The Book of Disquiet (Penguin Classics)
  • Used Book in Good Condition
  • Pessoa, Fernando (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 544 Pages - 12/31/2002 (Publication Date) - Penguin Classics (Publisher)

3. Joao Baptista de Almeida Garrett

Joao Baptista de Almeida Garrett’s name was usually shortened to Almeida Garrett. He was an influential Portuguese writer who made his mark during the 19th century. This was the peak of Romantic writing, and Portugal was no different.

He was born in Porto in 1799, but he and his family spent a lot of time moving from place to place because there was a lot of conflict in Europe in the 19th century. In 1820, a revolution broke out, and Garrett wrote a handful of patriotic hymns frequently sung on the streets in his village. He was afraid of being punished for his role in the Revolution, so he moved to England and hid there for several years.

After leaving England, he moved to France. That is where he published a few poems, including Dona Braca. Without a doubt, his most famous work is O Arco de Santana. When you read this book, you may have visions of the Hunchback of Notre Dame, by Victor Hugo, going through your head. 

O Arco de Sant´Ana
  • Almeida Garrett (Author)
  • Portuguese (Publication Language)
  • 284 Pages - 01/01/2011 (Publication Date) - A Bela e o Monstro (Publisher)

4. Camilo Castelo Branca

Another one of the most famous Portuguese writers is Camilo Castelo Branco. While he might not be as well known as some of the other authors on this list, he is one of the most prolific. During his time, he wrote more than 260 books.

This author was known for his sarcasm, wit, and dark humor. He also had a tough personal life, which he used as inspiration for his writing.

He was born in Lisbon in 1825, and he took an interest in writing at a young age. He wrote a wide variety of novels, essays, and plays, but he was also in trouble with the law fairly regularly. He was a man of interest for multiple reasons, but he died by suicide at 65.

Regardless, he played a significant role during the Romantic period of Portuguese writing. He was able to support himself solely through his writing career, which was undoubtedly rare in Portugal at that time. Several books are worth checking out, but you may want to explore Novelas de Minho. This work will showcase his unique, dark, sarcastic writing style. 

Novelas do Minho (Perfect Library) (Portuguese Edition)
  • Branco, Camilo Castelo (Author)
  • Portuguese (Publication Language)
  • 120 Pages - 05/23/2015 (Publication Date) - CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (Publisher)

5. Antonio Lobo Antunes

Antonio Lobo Antunes is trained as a psychiatrist; however, he is also well-known as a famous modern Portuguese writer. Typically, his books take a close look at the country’s unique, complex, and controversial past. Even though he is overshadowed by some of his contemporaries, particularly Saramago, his work is still worth exploring. He has a passionate following, and he still writes to this day. 

One of his most famous books is called The Natural Order of Things. This is a story that focuses on two families who have a lot of secrets they try to keep hidden. It is a brilliant work that crosses both the real and the surreal, and it will keep you interested as the pages unfold. 

The Natural Order of Things
  • Used Book in Good Condition
  • Antunes, Antonio Lobo (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 320 Pages - 06/09/2001 (Publication Date) - Grove Press (Publisher)

6. Jose Maria de Eca de Queiros

Jose Maria de Eca de Queiros was frequently referred to as Eca de Queiros. This Portuguese author is often compared to Charles Dickens. He interacted with a lot of his French contemporaries, as he spent a lot of time in Paris. He was also friends with Emile Zola, a famous French writer specializing in realist writing.

He was born in 1885 and started studying law as a teenager. He surrounded himself with a wide variety of poets who influenced his writing. After finishing school, he decided to enter the journalism field. After working in this area for a few years, he transitioned to the Portuguese consulate service.

He spent a lot of time traveling, which inspired his writing fiction heavily. He would spend several months working on different projects until he decided to publish them.

One of his most popular books is called O Misterio de Estrada de Sintra. This exciting tale will have the reader on the edge of their seat as the twists and turns unfold. If you want to take a closer look at his mind, consider diving into this fantastic adventure. 

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7. Sophia de Mello Breyner Andersen

This Portuguese author is usually referred to only by her first name. She was born in the northern part of Portugal in Viana do Castelo. In 1945, she published her first written work, a collection of poems, and they put her on the map. She would write numerous poetry collections during her career.

She is also the first female Portuguese author to receive the Premio Camoes, the highest literary honor given to a Portuguese writer. In addition to her work as a poet, Sophia wrote various stories, essays, plays, and children’s books. Her versatility as a writer has made her one of the most respected writers in the history of Portugal. 

If you want to learn more about her talents, you may want to take a closer look at Log Book: Selected Poems. In this work, she describes just why poetry is one of her favorite forms of writing. It forces her to examine her consciousness and interpret her feelings, which she does well. 

Log Book : Selected Poems (Aspects of Portugal)
  • Sophia De Mello Breyner (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 128 Pages - 01/01/1997 (Publication Date) - Carcanet Press Ltd. (Publisher)

8. Florabela Espanca

Florabela Espanca was a talented Portuguese poet. She was one of the few female writers of the era who published written works under her name. She is often compared to Emily Dickinson, and she has served as an inspiration to numerous future generations of female writers. Even though she lived a relatively short life, she left her mark on Portuguese writing. 

One of her most popular collections is Our Book: Florabela Espanca Selected Poems. This is a collection of very descriptive, emotionally-charged poems that will provide you with an inside look at what it was like to be a woman living in Portugal during this time. 

Our Book: Florbela Espanca Selected Poems
  • Espanca, Florbela (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 160 Pages - 05/25/2018 (Publication Date) - Rail Editions (Publisher)

9. Miguel Sousa Tavares

Miguel Sousa Tavares is Sophia’s son. While he went to school to be a lawyer, he decided to pursue journalism instead. After several years as a journalist, he decided to start writing himself.

His first work was published in 2003 and is called Equador. This story takes place in Equatorial Africa at the beginning of the twentieth century. At that time, this portion of Africa was owned by Portugal. It is an incredibly complex story that focuses on many difficulties related to the European treatment of African countries. It is very emotional, tackles many complicated moral issues, and provides an inside look at what it might have been like to live in Africa during this time. This book was also made into a movie. 

  • Miguel Sousa Tavares (Author)
  • Portuguese (Publication Language)

10. Lidia Jorge

Lidia was born in Algarve and studied French literature in college. She spent some time teaching in Mozambique and Angola, and her experiences there inform her writing. She is one of the landmark authors of the postcolonial period of Portuguese history.

One of her most famous works is The Migrant Painter of Birds. This beautiful contemporary novel focuses on what it is like to live in a rural community going through tremendous change. The book focuses on independence, family, and love. If you liked this round-up of the best Portuguese authors, you might enjoy reading about the best Moroccan authors.

The Migrant Painter of Birds
  • Hardcover Book
  • Jorge, L (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 244 Pages - 06/18/2024 (Publication Date) - Harvill Press (Publisher)

The Final Word On Portuguese Authors

These are just a few of the top Portuguese authors you need to know. Many of them have made a significant impact in Portugal and around Europe. Consider picking up a few of these books for yourself and dive into the unique world of Portuguese literature. 

Further Reading

FAQs About Portuguese Authors

Who Is The Most Read Portuguese Author Of All Time? 

It is difficult to say who is the most-read author, but Jose Saramago is among the most famous Portuguese authors right now.

Who Are Some Up-And-Coming Portuguese Authors?

Some of the most famous Portuguese authors include Goncalo Tavares and Afonso Cruz.