Originally published in 1942 under the title Minha Vida de Menina—Portuguese meaning “My Life as a Little Girl or “Young Girl”—this book is a diary that was kept by the author, Helena Morley (pseudonym of Alice Dayrell Caldeira Brant), when she was between the ages of twelve and fifteen (1893-1895), and living in Diamantina, a small diamond mining town in southeastern Brazil.
The little girl describes her homework, her love of parades and dresses, her father who could scarcely make a living in the mines, and her most beloved grandmother.
The diary was admired by French Novelist Georges Bernanos, and in 1957, award-winning American poet and writer Elizabeth Bishop, then resident in Brazil, translated it into English as The Diary of Helena Morley.
“The more I read the book [Minha Vida de Menina ]the better I liked it. The scenes and events it described were odd, remote, and long ago, and yet fresh, sad, funny, and eternally true. The longer I stayed on in Brazil the more Brazilian the book seemed, yet much of it could have happened in any small provincial town or village, and at almost any period of history—at least before the arrival of the automobile and the moving-picture theatre.”—Elizabeth Bishop