Government declares day of mourning for writer Agustina Bessa-Luís

Agustina Bessa-Luís

Portugal"s government on Monday declared a day of national mourning on Tuesday, in honour of Agustina Bessa-Luís, a writer who it said marked "decisively the Portuguese literature of the second half of the twentieth century".

Bessa-Luís died on Monday in Porto at the age of 96.

"With a vast and cross-cutting [body of] work, Agustina Bessa-Luís decisively marked the Portuguese literature of the second half of the twentieth century, with her legacy being synonymous with a unique course as a person and author that will certainly continue to enrich generations of readers and the influence the course of young authors," the government said in a statement.

It added that the country "and, especially, all literature expressed in Portuguese" owes a great debt to the late writer"s "long and unconditional dedication to literary creation and her exemplary contribution to the cultural prestige of Portugal."

Bess-Luís was born on 15 October, 1922, in Vila Meã, Amarante. She had been out of the public eye for health reasons in the last two decades of her life.

She first made her name in 1954, with the publication of the novel "A Sibila" (The Sybil), which won her the Delfim Guimarães and Eça de Queiroz prizes. She won a string of other awards, including, in 2004, the Camões and Vergílio Ferreira prizes.

Bessa-Luís was made a Grand Official of Portugal"s Order of Sant'Iago da Espada in 1981, and promoted to holder of the Grand Cross in 2006. In 1989 she was made a Knight of France"s Order of Arts and Letters.

Her funeral on Tuesday starts at Porto"s Sé Cathedral and concludes at the cemetery in Peso da Régua, Vila Real, where a private ceremony is to be held.