Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Maria Bibiana Benitez
Maria, (born Maria Bibiana Benitez Constanza) was born into a middle class family in the town of Aguadilla. She came from a family that loved literature and owned a private library which contained a collection of the best books available at the time. Her father could afford such a luxury since he held an important position within the Spanish colonial government. Maria was able to attend the best private schools where she learned about poetry and composition.
In 1813, she moved to the coastal town of Luquillo, where she wrote the majority of her poems. In 1820, her sister died and she raised her orphaned niece Alejandrina Benitez de Gautier, who would in the future become a renowned poetist herself. Maria was also the great-aunt of whom is considered to be the greatest Puerto Rican poet, Jose Gautier Benitez.
In 1832, Maria published her first poem, "La Ninfa de Puerto Rico", which is considered to be the first poem written by a Puerto Rican woman. She also became the first Puerto Rican woman to write a dramatic play when she wrote "La Cruz del Morro" (The Cross of El Morro). The play was based on the attack of the city of San Juan by the Dutch with the intention of invading Puerto Rico in 1625 and the heroic defense by the islanders. This was the first dramatic play written in Puerto Rico dealing with a local historical event.
Maria Bibiana Benitez died on April 18, 1873 in San Juan Puerto Rico.
There is a book written about her life titled "Los Silencios De Maria Bibiana Benitez" by Maria Arrillaga.
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