Full name: Fernando António Nogueira Pessoa.
Date and place of birth: Born in Lisbon, Mártires parish, building door number 4 in Largo de S. Carlos (as is in the directory) on June 13th 1888.
Filiation: Legitimate son of Joaquim de Seabra Pessoa and of Maria Madalena Pinheiro Nogueira. Paternal grandson of the General Joaquim António de Araújo Pessoa, fighter of many liberal campaigns, and of Dionísia Seabra; maternal grandson of the counselor Luís António Nogueira, jurisconsult, who was Director General of the “Ministry of the Kingdom”, and of Madalena Xavier Pinheiro. Kinship: mix of noblemen and Jews.
Civil status: Single.
Profession: The most correct designation would be “translator”, the most exact would be “foreign commercial correspondent” His poetry and writing were not his profession but his vocation.
Address: Rua Coelho da Rocha, 16, 1st Floor. Right, Lisbon. (Postal Code – Post Box 147, Lisbon).
Social positions he occupied: civil posts or notable duties: none.
Published works: His works were published in various magazines, journals and occasional publications. Worth mentioning are: the 35 sonnets (written in English), 1918, English Poems I-II and English Poems III (also in English), 1922, and the book Message, 1934, awarded a prize by the Secretary for National Propaganda, under the category Poem. The leaflet Interregnum, published in 1928, a defense of the Military Dictatorship in Portugal, should be considered as non-existent. All this must be reviewed and a lot must be dismissed.
Education: Following the death of his father in 1893, his mother remarried Commander João Miguel Rosa in 1895, who was the Consul of Portugal in Durban, Natal, where Fernando Pessoa was raised. He was awarded the Queen Victoria prize for English at the University of the Cape of Good Hope in 1903, for his achievement in an exam at the age of 15.
Political ideology: He believes the monarchy is the ideal system for an essentially imperialistic country such as Portugal. He also believes it is not possible to have a monarchy in Portugal. Therefore, in the case of a referendum, he would vote, with regret, for the Republic. A conservative in the English style, meaning, he admitted liberty within a conservative context and was absolutely anti-reactionary.
Religious Beliefs: Christian Gnostic, therefore entirely opposed to all organized churches, mainly the Roman Catholic Church. Devotee of the Secret Christian Tradition, for reasons that will become apparent further on, which maintains close ties with the Secret Tradition in Israel (The Holy Kabbalah) as well as with the occult quality of the Masonry.
Initiatory position: Initiated, by direct communication between Master and Disciple, in the three lower levels of the (apparently extinct) Order of the Templars in Portugal.
Patriotic position: Follower of a mystical nationalism from which all roman catholic infiltration would be abolished, to create, if possible, a new Sebastianism to spiritually replace it, if it can be considered that there ever was any spirituality in Portuguese Catholicism. He was a nationalist who guided himself by this motto: “Everything for Humanity; nothing against the Nation.”
Social Position: Anti-communist and anti-socialist. The rest can be deducted from what has already been mentioned above.
Summary of these last thoughts: To always keep in mind the martyr Jacques de Molay, Grand-Master of the Templars, and to fight, always and everywhere, his three assassins – Ignorance, Fanaticism and Tyranny”.
Lisbon, 30th March 1935
A POSSIBLE PORTRAIT OF FERNANDO PESSOA
He was a thin man, tenuous and frail, of medium stature, 1,73 m tall, slightly curved back. His chest was not well built; in fact it was quite sunken, despite the Swedish gymnastics he was practicing. He had long legs, not very muscular and his hands were slender and inexpressive. His awkward stride and fast pace, although irregular, denounced him at a distance.
He usually wore dark suits, grey, blue or black, at times short. He also wore a hat, normally wrinkled, and slightly tilted to the right.
His face was long and dry. Behind his small round glasses, of misty thick lenses, small brown eyes were hidden. His stare, when fixed on someone, was observant and sometimes even mysterious. He had a small mouth and thin lips, which were almost always shut. He had an “American” moustache which conferred him a special charm. When speaking for too long, and overworking his vocal chords, one of his weak points, the tone of his voice would change, becoming higher and slightly monotone. The changing from one tone to the other would in the end lower the natural volume of his voice and the sound that was therefore emitted would become quieter, more guttural and less audible.
In the last tens years of his life, perhaps due to the eighty cigars a day he smoked, he acquired a characteristic ahem followed by a dry cough.
Although not prone to laughing, Fernando Pessoa possessed a certain irony and humour, especially when in a good mood, revealed when close friends took him out for dinner. He would curiously rid himself of his timidity, gesticulating mechanically and repetitively, letting out a nervous, at times annoying laugh.
Although he did socialize with friends, he always remained a neurasthenic, lonely and reserved man, who rarely talked to strangers. Towards the end of his life, melancholy and an overly exaggerated existential anguish predominated. This was the reason for his detachment from friends and family. His anxious temperament was interpreted by some of his biographers as the result of an emotional character rather than an active one. In reality, he was an introverted man, with a tendency for great imbalance of feelings and emotions.
Gifted of a complex character, he was, above all, a simple man of great intelligence and sensibility… he was reserved and didn’t like to talk about himself or his problems, always protecting his privacy. Terribly superstitious, at times he seemed quite mysterious and enigmatic, to which his old attraction for the occult and the esoteric was a factor, along with his metaphysical understanding of life.
It is well known that Pessoa possessed some phobias. He hated being photographed, speaking on the phone and feared thunderstorms.
It is known that he was a philatelist and collected postcards. Along with his love of reading, and his library is proof of the many books he “devoured”, he also appreciated classical music: Beethoven, Chopin, Mozart, Verdi and Wagner were definitely some of his favourite composers.
Despite his retreated lifestyle, almost monastic, Pessoa had friends, which is understandable considering he was a kind man of noble character, always willing to help others.
Along with friend, relatives, colleagues, professors, literary coreligionists as well as others, such as his barber, a maid and even the owner of the dairy opposite the last house he inhabited, are referred to.
Luís Machado mentions the following names:
Alberto de Hutra; Alfredo Araújo Mourão; Alfredo Pedro Guizado; Almada Negreiros; Ana Luísa Nogueira de Freitas (aunt Anica); António Bossa; António Botto; António Cobeira; António Ferro; António Maria Silvano; Armando Cortes Rodrigues; Armando Teixeira Rebelo; Augusto Ferreira Gomes; Augusto Santa Rita; Beatriz Osório de Albuquerque; Carlos Eugénio Moitinho de Almeida; Carlos Queirós; Castelo de Morais; Coelho de Jesus; Da Cunha Dias; Eduardo Freitas da Costa (cousin); Eliezer Kamenezky; Emília Sengo (a dedicated housekeeper who worked in some of the houses he lived in); Félix Valadas; Fernando Lobo D’Ávila; Francisco Caetano Dias (brother-in-law); Francisco Camelo; Francisco Fernando Lopes; Francisco Gouveia; Gerardo Coelho de Jesus; Henrique dos Santos Rosa (step-father’s brother); Henriqueta Madalena Nogueira Rosa (half sister); João Gaspar Simões; João Maria Nogueira Rosa (half brother); José Jaime Neves; José Pacheco; Luís Miguel Nogueira Rosa (half brother); Luís de Montalvor; Luís Pedro Moitinho de Almeida; Madalena Pinheiro Nogueira (mother); Manacés (the barber); Manuel António Sengo; Manuel Lobo D´Ávila; Manuel Martins da Hora; Maria da Cunha (aunt); Mariano Santana; Mário Beirão; Mário Nogueira de Freitas (cousin); Mário de Sá-Carneiro; Mário Saa; Ponce de Leão; Raul Leal; Ruy Vaz; Silva Tavares; Teixeira Rebelo; Trindade (owner of the dairy opposite the house in Rua Coelho da Rocha); Vítor Silva Carvalho; Vitoriano Braga; W. H. Nicholas.
In At the dinner table with Fernando Pessoa/Luís Machado; pref. Teresa Rita Lopes.- Lisboa: Pandora, 2001.