Luisa Josefina Hernández biography, style, works, phrases

Charles McCarthy

Luisa Josefina Hernández and Lavalle (1928) is a Mexican writer, novelist, essayist, playwright and translator, considered one of the most important intellectuals of the 20th century. His literary work continues in force due to its quality and intelligence to develop it..

Hernández spanned various literary genres, including novels, theater, and essays. His work is characterized by the use of clear, precise and expressive language, loaded with humor and sarcasm. In his writings, the influence of the classics of literature and modern innovations is notorious..

Portrait of Luisa Josefina Hernández. Source:

This Mexican author has to her credit more than twenty novels and sixty plays, to which are added several essays and translations by authors such as William Shakespeare and Arthur Miller. Some of his most outstanding works are Cane brandy, The place where the grass grows, The deserted anger, The weddings Y The great dead.

Article index

  • 1 Biography
    • 1.1 Birth and family
    • 1.2 Studies
    • 1.3 Literary growth
    • 1.4 Period of wide production
    • 1.5 Awards and recognitions
    • 1.6 Last years
  • 2 Style
    • 2.1 Theater
    • 2.2 Novel
  • 3 Works
    • 3.1 Brief description of some of his works
  • 4 Phrases
  • 5 References


Birth and family

Luisa Josefina was born on November 2, 1928 in Mexico City, into a cultured family with a good social position. His parents were originally from Campeche and their names were Santiago Hernández Maldonado and Faustina Lavalle Berrón. She was the only daughter of the marriage and grew up listening to her mother's stories about that town.


Hernández attended his primary, secondary and high school studies at institutions in his hometown. From an early age he showed interest in literature and writing. So when he finished high school in 1946 he began to study philosophy and letters at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM)..

Shield of the UNAM, place of studies of Hernández. Source: Both, the shield and the motto, José Vasconcelos Calderón [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Later he specialized in dramatic art and completed a master's degree in letters at UNAM. During those university years she made her debut as a playwright, with works such as Cane brandy, Agony Y The angel's crown. The writer was awarded a scholarship in 1952 by the Centro Mexicano de Escritores to expand her literary work.

Literary growth

Luisa Josefina began to grow in the literary area in her early twenties. In 1954 the Centro Mexicano de Escritores awarded her a grant for the second time and as a result she wrote the play Apothecary model and published the novel The place where the grass falls.

In the mid-fifties Hernández managed to graduate in drama and did so with the play The fallen fruits. The writer also made her way as a teacher; began teaching theory and dramatic composition at UNAM -a work he performed for forty years-, and theater at the National Institute of Fine Arts.

Period of wide production

Luisa Josefina Hernández was one of those intellectuals who did not stop in the production of her narrative and theatrical work. His growth was rapid and notorious, in less than a decade he had already developed more than a dozen literary works.

However, the writer had one of the most fruitful stages of her career in the sixties. In that time he managed to publish five novels, which were The deserted palaces, The secret anger, The valley we choose, The memory of Amadís Y The cavalcade, exactly between 1963 and 1969.

Awards and honours

Hernández's literary career has been praised by the public and critics. His extensive work has been worthy of several awards, some of the most relevant are mentioned below:

Recognition of the Spring Festival Contest in 1951, for the work Cane brandy.

- Newspaper award The National in 1954, by Apothecary model.

- Magda Donato Award in 1971, for the narrative work Nostalgia for Troy.

- Xavier Villaurrutia Award in 1982, for the novel Apocalypse cum figuris.

- Member of the National System of Art Creators since 1994.

Last years

The last years of Luisa Josefina Hernández's life have been dedicated to her great passion: literature. Despite her advanced age, the writer continues to develop novels and plays. Among his latest publications are The Great Dead, A Reading of Yerma by Federico García Lorca Y One night for Bruno.

On the other hand, this Mexican intellectual continued to receive awards in the last two decades of her career. In 2000 she was the winner of the Juan Ruiz de Alarcón Dramaturgy Prize, and two years later she was recognized with the National Science and Arts Award. In 2018, the Baja California Fine Arts Award in dramaturgy was named after.


Commemorative poster for celebrating the 90 years of Luisa Josefina Hernández. Source:

Luisa Josefina Ramírez's literary style is characterized by the use of a well-developed, cultured and precise language. In his works the presence of intelligent dialogues, full of sarcasm and humor, is common. In both novels and plays there is dynamism and psychological complexity in the characters.


Hernández's plays were characterized primarily by being profound and possessing intense psychological dynamics. The main themes were related to the evolution of women within Mexican society and the real problems of families.


Hernández developed novels with realistic content, whose stories were told through clear and uninhibited language. Good humor and irony were not lacking in his stories, and at the same time he criticized the society of the time. The author wrote about Mexican families, especially the domestic role of women.


- Cane brandy (1951).

- Agony (1951).

- The angel's crown (1951).

- Apocalypse cum figuris (1951). Novel.

- Outside it rains (1952).

- Apothecary model (1954).

- The place where the grass grows (1954). Novel.

- The fallen fruits (1955).

- Royal guests (1956).

- White harps ... golden rabbits (1959).

- The fictional peace (1960).

- History of a ring (1961).

- The street of the great occasion (1962).

- Scandal in Puerto Santo (1962).

- The deserted palaces (1963). Novel.

- Secret anger (1964). Novel.

- The valley we choose (1964). Novel.

- The exquisite night (1965). Novel.

- The memory of Amadís (1967). Novel.

- Figurations.

- The cavalcade (1969). Novel.

- Nostalgia for Troy (1970). Novel.

- The dance of the multiple grouse (1971).

- Apostasy (1978). Novel.

- Certain things (1980).

- Apocalypse cum figuris (1982).

- The order of the factors (1983).

- Jerusalem, Damascus (1985).

- The secret friend (1986).

- "Underwater Navigation Chart" (1987).

- Almeida Danzon (1989).

- There will be poetry (1990).

- The weddings (1993).

- Temperate zone (1993).

- Beckett. Meaning and method of two works (1997).

- The great dead (1999-2001).

- A reading of Yerma by Federico García Lorca (2006). Test.

- One night for Bruno (2007).

Brief description of some of his works

The fallen fruits (1955)

It is considered one of the best-known plays by the Mexican playwright. The popularity of this work has been due to the originality and quality with which the author described the events of the story. Hernández knew how to combine Mexican customs with social reality.

The writer developed the work based on real characters, with characteristics that allowed the public to identify themselves. It was a plot set in a town and what the author wanted was to highlight deep-rooted and old-fashioned ideas that did not allow the advancement of society.

The main characters are:

- Celia: her character represented a young woman, mother of two children and frowned upon by her family for having divorced and marrying another man.

- Fernando: Celia's paternal uncle. With this character, Hernández represented vice and family disloyalty. He was a middle-aged man, alcoholic and disrespectful.

- Magdalena: Fernando's wife and victim of domestic violence.

- Dora: adopted daughter of Fernando and Magdalena. She was born into a very poor family, she was welcomed by the couple when she was seventeen years old.

- Francisco: 22-year-old boy and Celia's partner.

- Paloma: Celia's aunt (sister of her paternal grandfather), was seventy-five years old. She was a woman who was abused and discriminated against by her relatives.


Magdalena: -Because I was ashamed; when a woman leaves her husband early in their marriage, people always say that it is her fault.

Celia: -It's true. And then?

Magdalena: -Then I couldn't, because I thought that if I left it, I wouldn't have anything left. Good or bad, what I had was mine, what I had chosen. There are times when you realize that the life you lead is your life. The one that one chose and that cannot be denied because it is like saying: 'Magdalena, you no longer live'.

Celia: -Do you think there is someone who chooses his life?

Magdalena: -I suppose so, I decided to marry Fernando, and once it was done ...

Celia: -It's over, there's no hope left.

Magdalena: -Those who are like you ... Celia. We are equal to those who are like you. Only there are trees that release the fruit at the first shake, and others that need two ".


- "When I write I don't think about genres".

- “The job of writers consists of relating, almost automatically, actions with the character of the person who carries them out. In other words, there are things that people would not do if their character and circumstances did not give them reason ... ".

- “When you write, you write. When you finish writing, you think about problems ... ".

- “The theater has its own freedom. You have to know how to find it ".

- “I think that in general Mexicans are not very gifted to do theater. It is a question of character. We are good poets and good painters ... This implies that theater is not one of the national vocations ... ".

- “… When I feel like saying something realistically in a realistic way, I say it, and if it seems to me that that way doesn't work for me, I use another way as an instrument. I feel not committed to technique, not committed to style, but committed to truth and beauty ".

- "I believe that the public has already learned to go to the theater ... when theater is done in places that are poor neighborhoods and neighborhoods, people run to the theater, people without training, but who know they can have fun there."


  1. Luisa Josefina Hernández. (2019). Spain: Wikipedia. Recovered from:
  2. Leñero, E. (2018). Luisa Josefina Hernandez. Mexico: Process. Recovered from:
  3. Martínez, A. (2014). “When I write I don't think about genres”: 'Luisa Josefina Hernández. Mexico: Millennium. Recovered from:
  4. Luisa Josefina Hernández. (2019). Mexico: Encyclopedia of Literature in Mexico. Recovered from:
  5. Naranjo, J. (2018). Fallen fruits. (N / a): Chronicle of Power. Recovered from:

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