Author. He received notoriety, as a Peruvian writer, for his early nineteenth century literary pieces about the life-style of his country's citizens. As a severe critic, he examined and judged with comedies and articles the popular, yet often inhumane, customs and political practices. Truly being a Peruvian patriot, he believed that his literature could bring about a needed change in his country. Although born in to a wealthy, aristocratic family in Peru, his family returned to Spain in 1821 after the independence of Peru, and it was there he received an excellent education. He found that the same racial prejudices with limitations that applied to native Peruvian or the Creole from the aristocrats were now applied to his Peru-born family by the Spanish-born. To manage an inheritance from his grandparents, he returned to Peru at the age of twenty-two and was appointed professor of Mathematics and Philosophy at the Seminary of Santo Toribio while studying law at the University of San Marcos. Eventually, he was a professor of language, literature and law. In the newspaper the “Peruvian Mercy” he published his first literary piece, “Return of the Peruvian to His Country;” by 1829 he was the editor of the newspaper; and soon after, the Peruvian President Augustin Gamarra appointed him editor of the newspapers “El Registro Official, El Conciliador,” and “La Miscelanea.” In 1830 he was appointed Secretary of Legation in Bolivia. The days that followed were rebellious and upsetting for Peru with different fractions attempting to take control of the country. This was one of the most chaotic eras in the history of the Peruvian Republic with up to seven men proclaiming to be president of the country at the same time. Starting in 1833, he was forced several times into Chilean exile or be killed, but he continued to publish his articles while in exile for the Peruvian newspapers. While in Chile, he learned of the execution of Peruvian President Salaverry, who he had served as his diplomat. After two attempts to return to Peru only to return to exile, he decided to leave his family in Peru. In February of 1840, he returned to Peru only after receiving amnesty from the Huancayo Congress. Starting in 1840, he wrote and published his political newspaper “The Mirror of My Land” for nearly twenty years, which is considered a priceless anthology of 19th century Peruvian literature. He published stories, humorous poems and articles with the “The Trip” and “The Walk of Amancase” being the most-known pieces. In 1844 his thirty-seven issues of the “National Guard” appeared in favor of President Vivanco, who was later overthrown by Ramon Castilla. He had to leave Peru for exile for the seventh time when Vivano left office but later return to be Castilla's Minister of Foreign Affairs. His highest held position was vice-president of Council of State in 1851, even then at times his writings continued to oppose the government. At this point, his health started to decline with blindness. A daughter helped him with writing in his last years. He wrote in total at least a dozen poems and sonnets. In 1860 he was elected, as the first Peruvian, to be a corresponding member of the Royal Academy of the Spanish Language. He married a lady from an elite Peruvian family, Petronial de Lavalle y Cavero, and the couple had four children. His oldest son, Manuel Pardo y Lavalle, became the first civilian President of Peru, and a grandson was president twice.
Bio by: Linda Davis
Manuel Gonzáles Prada