Female travellers were not only famous for their travel alone. Some were prolific writers, poets or revolutionaries. Lola Rodríquez de Tío was one such person. She was born in 1843 in St Germain, Puerto Rico. She later became one of Puerto Rico’s most distinguished nineteenth-century lyric poets. Her early education took place in St Germain. Her schooling continued at home, where various intellectuals and politicians often met in informal literary and social circles. In 1876, her family moved to Mayagüez, where she published her first book of poetry, Mis cantares [My Songs], She was also the first woman to give a speech at a graduation in Mayaguez. Her life can be represented by three phases: her home-life, her intellectual work and her political activities. In 1863, at the age of 20, Lola married Bonocio Tío Segarra, a well educated writer, who was politically active against the Spanish colonial regime. The couple made their home a centre of political gatherings and were both exiled for their activities, firstly in 1877, when they went to Venezuela. Most of Lola’s works were amalgamated in Obras completas [Complete Works] after her death.
Politics and Exile
In 1868, inspired by the call for Puerto Rican independence known as the Grito de Lares, Lola wrote patriotic lyrics to the tune of La borinqueña the song became very popular, but brought her into conflict with Spanish authorities. In 1877 Bonocio Tío, her husband, was exiled for having denounced the Spanish Governor of Puerto Rico and they lived for three years in Caracas, Venezuela. Upon their return to Puerto Rico the couple founded the magazine La Almojábana. They were exiled again in 1887, returning first to Venezuela and then to Cuba. Once in Havana, their home became a centre for politicians and intellectuals as well as exiled Puerto Ricans and it has been said they aided José Marti the Cuban revolutionary, by hiding weapons in their home.
In Cuba, Lola voiced her support for various Puerto Rican patriots jailed at El Morro [a prison]. With the publication of her book of poetry, entitled Mi libro de Cuba [My Cuban Book], and her continued revolutionary activities, Lola and her husband in 1889 were exiled once more to New York City.