Literary Ladies of La Plata

Beloved by French novelist Pierre Drieu, and the great Jorge Luis Borges alike, in the 1920s and 1930s Victoria Ocampo gathered writers and intellectuals from around the globe to her home, Villa Victoria, creating a formidable literary and artistic salon.

Ocampo never went to university, but her voracious appetite for knowledge and love of literature led her to become Argentina’s leading lady of letters. She founded the literary magazine Sur, which introduced writers such as Virginia Woolf and TS Eliot to Argentine readers. She was also an inexhaustible traveler and a pioneering feminist, and was loathed for her lack of convention. A ferocious opponent of Peronism, chiefly because of Perón’s interference with intellectual freedom, Ocampo was arrested at Villa Victoria at the age of 63. She entertained her fellow inmates by reading aloud and acting out scenes from novels and cinema.

If Victoria is remembered as a lively essayist and great patron of writers, her younger sister, Silvina, was the literary talent, writing both short stories and poetry. Silvina won several literary prizes for her works, and in 1940 married Adolfo Bioy Casares, a famous Argentine writer and friend of Jorge Luis Borges.