Fernando Pessoa is the most important Portuguese writer. Born in Lisbon in 1888, he lived mostly in the Lusitanian capital and had even resided in South Africa during his childhood. At 47, he had written thousands of pages of the best literature, making him one of the greatest contemporary poets. In his youth, he lived in the Carmo zone, a few meters from the Lisboa Pessoa Hotel, which is dedicated in his honor.
Pessoa’s most fascinating characteristic was what he called heteronymism, in other words, the fact that Pessoa invented fictitious authors called “heteronyms.” Each one had a “work,” a “biography,” a “style,” a “physionomy” unlike the others and even Pessoa, the “orthonym,” that is, himself. The floors of Lisboa Pessoa Hotel are dedicated to the main heteronyms – Alberto Caeiro, Ricardo Reis, and Álvaro de Campos.
“Who am I to me?” asked Bernardo Soares, one of Pessoa’s masks, to whom Pessoa had “credited” the writing of his most widely read book in the world: The Book of Disquiet, an intimate, fragmentary, and dreamlike diary. A great work of poetry is Mensagem, the only book in Portuguese published in life, a set of poems dedicated to Portugal’s heroes and myths in a universalist projection that sees a future of tremendous culture for Portugal and for humanity. Poetry was Pessoa’s great love. He kept countless texts in a legendary chest – Pessoa’s estate –, full of papers, many still to be published.
The Lisboa Pessoa Hotel is located in the same address of the former “Tipografia do Comércio”, which in 1915 printed the two copies of Orpheu – Revista Trimestral de Literatura(Orpheu – Quarterly Literary Magazine), probably the most important periodic publication of the Portuguese contemporary culture. At Rua Oliveira ao Carmo, no. 10 (currently no. 8), in the centre of Lisbon, the cultural legacy of Pessoa and Orpheu remains alive and contemporary by means of a literary tourism project dedicated thereof.