(25 May 1925 – 7 August 1974) was a Mexican
poet and author. Along with the other members of the Generation of 1950
(the poets who wrote following the Second World War, influenced by Cesar Vallejo
and others), she was one of Mexico's most important literary voices in the last century. Throughout her life, she wrote eloquently about issues of cultural and gender oppression, and her work has influenced feminist
theory and cultural studies
. Though she died young, she opened the door of Mexican literature
to women, and left a legacy that still resonates today.
Born in Mexico City
, she was raised in Comitán
near her family's ranch in the southern state
. She was an introverted young girl, who took notice of the plight of the indigenous Maya
who worked for her family. According to her own account, she felt estranged from her family after a soothsayer
predicted that one of her mother's two children would die shortly, and her mother screamed out, "Not the boy!"
The family's fortunes changed suddenly when President Lázaro Cárdenas
enacted a land reform
and peasant emancipation policy that stripped the family of much of its land holdings. At fifteen, Castellanos and her parents moved to Mexico City
. One year later, her parents were dead and she was left to fend for herself.
Although she remained introverted, she joined a group of Mexican and Central American
intellectuals, read extensively, and began to write. She studied......