María Isabel Carvajal

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Maria Isabel Carvajal (January 1887 - May 13, 1949) was a Costa Rican writer and teacher. She was born in San Jose, Costa Rica. Carvajal wrote using the name Carmen Lyra.

Life[change | edit source]

Lyra studied at the school in her neighborhood in the Buenaventura Corrales. She studied pedagogy at the college and got the teacher’s certification. Lyra began teaching in the rural El Monte School in the province of Heredia. In 1906, she worked in the San Juan de Dios Hospital for a short time.

Teaching methods[change | edit source]

Lyra travelled to Europe. While there, she learned about new educational systems. When she returned, she worked with a teacher and founded the first pre-school in Costa Rica.

Writing career[change | edit source]

Lyra's first publication was the novel En una silla de ruedas (In a Wheelchair), in 1918. Her short stories were published in the Pandemonium Magazine, Ariel Magazine, and the Repertorio Americano.

The stories of Carmen Lyra have been used in many schools. The most popular is Cuentos de mi tía Panchita (Story of my aunt Panchita). It was published in 1920. This story is well known by most Costa Rican.

Other works of Maria Isabel Carvajal are Las fantasias de Juan Silvestre (1918), Obras Completas (1975), La cucarachita mandina (1976) and relatos escogidos (1977).

Politics[change | edit source]

Carmen Lyra was involved in Costa Rican politics. She was part of the communist party.

She helped organize women schoolteachers to burn down the building of the official newspaper and to overthrow the dictatorship of Costa Rica's Federico Tinoco Granados in 1919. She is credited with translating the Communist Manifesto into Spanish in 1920. She went on to take a leading role in the banana workers' strike of 1934. During this time, she wrote Bananos y Hombres (Bananas and Men).

In 1948, she was forced into leave Costa Rica after the Costa Rican Civil War because of her politics. She went to Mexico and died there in 1949.