Delmira Agustini was born in Montevideo, Uruguay on October 24, 1886. She published her first book of poems in 1907 when she was twenty-one years old. Even though she was an accomplished poet, critics would comment on her physical beauty more than her works. Agustini married Enrique Job Reyes in 1913. The couple were only married for a little more than a month before Agustini requested a divorce. She died in a murder/suicide at the hands of her ex-husband only a month after their divorce was finalized, on July 6, 1914. She was only able to complete three books before her death, with her most mature writings to be published posthumously.
Santiago Agustini was a merchant who had inherited a large amount of money from his French immigrant parents. His wife, Maria, known for her strong will, was of German descent. They worked together to raise their daughter, surrounded by wealth they were able to indulge her. Both of her parents were very devoted to her. It is thought that her mother was the overbearing parent, instilling a sense of submission, while her father supported her creative side, allowing her the freedom to explore and daydream erotic ideals and fantasies. It was a combination of these things that led her become one of the greatest Latin American poets. With her slender frame, pale skin and bright blue eyes, she was often seen as an innocent angel; all the more startling when she began publishing her poetry.
Agustini claimed to have started reading and writing at the age of three. This set her up well to have her first poem published when she was only twelve years old. She started publishing in La Alborada, a local magazine, in 1902. By 1903, she was placed in charge of the society pages. Because she was young and a woman, she gained a lot of fame and attention through the society pages.
In 1907, Agustini published “El Libro Blanco” (“The White Book”). It was received well critics and the public alike. However, when she released her second book three years later, the public opinion of her and her work began to shift. She was nicknamed the Baby in literary circles yet she began writing about sexuality. “Cantos de la Manana” (“The Morning Songs”), her second published book, was still praised by critics for being inspirational. Agustini was being forced to accept the role of virginal purity, due to societal restrictions on women at the time. Trying to break the mold once and for all, she published her third book, “Los Calices Vacios”, (“Empty Chalices”), in 1913. With strong sexual content, she dedicated this book to the god of love, Eros. In a literary world being dominated by men she wrote of human sexuality and carnal pleasures, things that upper class women weren’t supposed to think about, much less discuss. It was in this third book she announced her intentions of a fourth.
After a five year engagement, Agustini married Enrique Job Reyes on August 14, 1913. The couple were married for less than two months when Agustini left their marital home and returned to the home of her parents. The new liberal regime at the time had just recently written laws that made it possible for her to file for divorce, which was finally granted in June of 1914. Even after the separation and divorce, she continued to have a physical relationship with her now ex-husband. They would meet in his rented apartment, seeming content to carry on as lovers. It was on one such occasion on July 6, 1914 that Reyes shot Agustini twice in the head, killing her instantly, before turning the gun on himself. He was later pronounced dead at the hospital.
Her willingness to challenge male authority and female passiveness with her written words helped pave the way for future women authors. She abandoned the classic style of prose while still maintaining control over her writing. As promised, she had begun working on her fourth collection of poems. That fourth book, “The Stars of the Abyss”, was published as two volumes in 1924, a decade after her untimely death. Delmira Agustini is considered to be the first Latin American female poet on the twentieth century.