Classic Author Focus: Nellie Campobello

Nellie Campobello

Nellie Campobello was a Mexican writer, ballet dancer, and choreographer. Her best known work is Carthucho, the only work by a woman novelist to document the Mexican Revolution. She was also a founder of the Mexico City Ballet and a director of the Mexican National School of Dance.

The biographical articles I could find don’t say much about the status of Nellie’s parents, only that her father died in battle during the revolution. Her original name was Maria Francisca Moya Luna, but upon her mother’s remarriage to physician Stephen Campbell, she took the Mexicanized name of Campobello. According to her novel of the revolution, her mother was abused by General Rueda and his soldiers. Her mother told the soldiers they could do anything to her, and they apparently did, but to leave her children alone.

After the revolution, the Campobellos moved to Mexico City, where Nellie and her sister studied dance. Her sister Gloria became a prima ballerina of Mexico, and Nellie founded the ballet company and became a director of the school of dance.

In 1931, Nellie published a book of poems entitle Yo. Then in 1931, she published Cartucho, based on her memories of the war. The novel is considered a classic of the revolution, known for its depiction of women during the Revolution and called the feminist version of the revolution. She continued to write and published a few more books up through 1960.

Although Nellie was never married, she had a son who died when he was two. Nellie is also known for her mysterious death. In 1985, she disappeared along with her belongings, including valuable paintings, believed to have been kidnapped by her caretakers, Claudio Fuentes Figueroa (or Claudio Niño Cienfuentes) and his spouse Maria Cristina Belmont. Her remains were not discovered until 1996, in a grave from 1986 with her initials on it. A death certificate had been lodged alleging she died of heart failure and witnessed by Fuentes. The couple had apparently convinced her to sign over all her possessions to them in her will. A warrant was issued for Fuentes, but he was never located.

Dates: 1900-1986

Most popular work: Cartucho

Other works: Yo, Los manos de mamá, Apuntes sobre la vida militar de Francisco Villa, Ritmos indígenas de México, Tres poemas, Mis libros

One thought on “Classic Author Focus: Nellie Campobello

  1. What a fascinating woman and story and what a sad ending. Finally, women come out of history, even if there are so many more to discover. Every new story revealed is a step in the right direction.

    Liked by 1 person

Comments are closed.