Nilo Pereira

Lúcia Gaspar
Joaquim Nabuco Foundation Librarian
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I often say that I am from a happy generation. The generation that learned to respect their parents, teachers, elders. The God-fearing generation. Full of love for beautiful things. Excited about some ideals that are now on the brink of death.
Nilo Pereira

 Nilo Pereira de Oliveira was born on the Verde-Nasce sugarcane plantation in the city of Ceará-Mirim, Rio Grande do Norte, on 11 December 1909, to Fausto Varela Pereira and Beatriz de Oliveira Pereira.

He studied in Ceará-Mirim with teacher Adele de Oliviera, before moving to Natal, the state capital, where he studied Humanities and at the School of Commerce.

In Natal, at the age of 15, he began writing for the newspaper Diario de Natal and later for the newspaper A República, where he was also a reporter. At that time, he was on close terms with significant figures form Rio Grande do Norte, including Luís da Câmara Cascudo, who was his friend for over 50 years.

He passed the admission exams and did the first year of Law in Rio de Janeiro, moving in the second year to the Recife Faculty of Law, where he graduated in Juridical and Social Sciences in 1932.

He was chosen valedictorian, and his speech was so impressive that the Pernambuco interventor at the time, Agamenon Magalhães, invited him to work with the state government. He was director of the State Department of Education twice.

He married Lila Marques Pereira in 31 March 1943, whose maiden name was Lila Pimentel Marques, daughter of Bartolomeu Marques, one of the owners of the Recife Grinding Society, and Laurinda Rosa Marques. They had six children: Geraldo, Maria Beatriz, Roberto, Tereza, Eliana and Fatima.

He basically didn’t practice law, acting only once or twice as a lawyer. His vocation was journalism, which he loved and devoted himself daily. He also liked to teach, and taught at Nóbrega, Salesiano and Father Felix colleges, at the Gymnasium Pernambucano and several other schools in Recife.

He was editor-in-chief of the Folha da Manhã, a daily newspaper which belonged to Agamenon Magalhães; worked at Recife’s Jornal do Commercio, where he was editorial writer for many years and where he regularly published the column Notas Avulsas  (Odd Notes) (1954-1992); contributed to the Recife newspapers Jornal Pequeno, A Tribuna and  Diario de Pernambuco; O Jornal  and the Jornal do Commercio, of Rio de Janeiro; O Liberal from Belém do Pará; A União in João Pessoa, Paraíba; and several newspapers in Natal, such as the Diário de Natal, A República, O Estado, O Poti  and Tribuna do Norte.

He was a friend of many humanists and intellectuals from Recife, including Gilberto Freyre, Gilberto Osório de Andrade, Sylvio Rabello, Orlando ParahymMauro Mota, and Mário Melo, with whom he maintained a long controversy in the newspapers about the placement of a bust of the poet Manuel Bandeira in a public square.

He held important positions and functions in Pernambuco public life: Pernambuco State Secretary three times; State Representative and leader of the majority in the Pernambuco Legislative Assembly (1951-1954); Director of the State Department of Press and Propaganda; founder and Chair Professor at the Pernambuco Catholic University; Dean of the Faculty of Philosophy of the Federal University of Pernambuco-UFPE, for two mandates; member of the Pernambuco Archaeological, History and Geography Institute; founding member of the Tropicology Seminar; and Chairman of the Board of the Joaquim Nabuco Foundation, among others.

He received several honorary degrees and awards, among them Professor Emeritus and Doctor Honoris Causa of UFPE; Doctor Honoris Causa of the Federal University of Rio Grande do Norte; Commander of the Order of Christ, granted by the Portuguese government; Collar of University of Coimbra, Portugal; the Oliveira Lima Medal of Cultural Merit from the Pernambuco State Government; the Carneiro Vilela Medal from the Pernambuco Academy of Letters, of which he was also a member.

He is the author, among others, of the following works: O período regencial brasileiro (The Brazilian Regency Period) (1939), his first publication, a thesis (not held) for access to the faculty of the Gymnasium Pernambucano; Camões e Nabuco (Camões and Nabuco) (1949); Revisionismo e tradição  (Revisionism and Tradition) (1950); Dom Vital e a questão religiosa no Brasil (Dom Vital and the Religious Issue in Brazil) (1966); Conflitos entre a Igreja e o Estado no Brasil (Conflicts between Church and State in Brazil) (1970); Espírito de província  (Provincial Spirit) (1970); Ensaios de história regional (Regional History Essays) (1972); Agamenon Magalhães: uma evocação pessoal (Agamenon Magalhães: a personal evocation) (1973); O tempo mágico (The Magic Time) (1975); A Faculdade de Direito do Recife, 1927-1977 (The Recife Faculty of Law, 1927-1977) (1977); Um tempo do Recife (A Time of Recife) (1978), Reflexões de um fim de século (Reflexions on an End of a Century) (1979); Igreja e Estado: relações difíceis (Church and State: difficult relations) (1982), Iniciação ao jornalismo: pesquisa histórica (Introduction to Journalism: historical research) (1982), A rosa verde: crônica quase romance (The Green Rose: an almost-novel chronicle) (1982); Pernambucanidade: alguns aspectos históricos (‘Pernambucanicity’: some historical aspects) (1983); Gilberto Freyre visto de perto  (A Close Look at Gilberto Freyre) (1986); Mauro Mota e o seu tempo (Mauro Mota and His Time) (1987); Profissionais de Pernambuco (Pernambuco Professionals) (1989); O Estado Novo em Pernambuco (The New State in Pernambuco) (1989); Conferência sobre a vida e a obra do abolicionista José Mariano (Conference on the Life and Work of Abolitionist José Mariano) (1990); Os outros (The Others) (1996) [posthumous].

Nilo Pereira died in Recife on 23 January 1992, aged 82, due to a serious heart problem.

Recife, 22 December 2004.
(Updated on 31 August 2009).

Translated by Peter Leamy, March 2012.


MELLO, Frederico Pernambucano de; ARAGÃO, Creusa (Org.) Nilo Pereira: tempo e circunstância. Recife: Fundaj. Ed. Massangana, 2001. 40p.

NILO Pereira (quadro). Disponível em: . Acesso em: 27 abr. 2002.

D`OLIVEIRA, Fernanda. Nilo Pereira: a raça de um homem múltiplo. Recife: Assembléia Legislativa do Estado de Pernambuco, 2001. 128p. il.

PEREIRA, Geraldo. Nilo Pereira revisitado, uma biografia reduzida. Ciência & Trópico, Recife, v.29, n.1, p.205-218, 2001.


Source: GASPAR, Lúcia. Nilo Pereira. Pesquisa Escolar Online, Joaquim Nabuco Foudation, Recife. Available at:  <http://basilio.fundaj.gov.br/pesquisaescolar/>. Accessed: day month year. Exemple: 6 Aug. 2009

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