From Elizabeth Bishop's introduction:
'When I first came to Brazil, in 1952, I asked my Brazilian friends which Brazilian books I should begin reading ... They frequently recommended this little book, "Minha Vida de Menina" ... In English the title means "My Life as a Little Girl" or "Young Girl", and that is exactly what the book is about, but it is not reminiscences; it is a diary, the diary actually kept by a little girl between the ages of 12 and 15, in the far-off town of Diamantina, in 1893-1895 ... The more I read the book 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 (1928-79) was one of the greatest, most beloved poets of the twentieth century. 'Helena Morley' was the pseudonym of Senhora Augusto Mario Caldeira Brant, whose diary was first published for her friends in 1942.