“A woman’s place is in the home”? - Portuguese translations of studies on the condition of women and guides of good conduct (1910-1950)

Abstract: In this article we compare the publishing of Portuguese translations of essays and guides relating to the condition of women during the First Republic with the reality of the military regime and the first two decades of Salazar’s dictatorship. We focus on the Portuguese edition of Woman and Home by O.S. Marden, which slipped through the meshes of censorship.

Keywords: Estado Novo; translation and gender constructions, essays about women, guides for the good wife


The number of publications for Portuguese women increased continuously in the last decades of the nineteenth century and, even more significantly, throughout the first half of the twentieth, despite the high rate of illiteracy in Portugal, which affected mostly women. The number of women’s magazines on offer grew substantially, and there was a marked increase in the publication not only of popular genres that specifically targeted women, such as romance novels (mostly as translations) but also of other types of books dealing with their status, education, or role in society.

This article will focus on translations of good conduct guides (for women) and essays on the status of women published in Portugal between 1900 and 1950. In this exploratory study, we shall only consider guides meant for adult or young adult women with a relatively broad approach to women’s life and conduct as well as the above mentioned essays.[1] Two publishing periods will be addressed:

1910 to 1933, i.e. the years of the First Republic and of the military regime that preceded the implementation of Salazar’s dictatorship (1926-1933); and 1933 to 1950, the years of the establishment and consolidation of the dictatorial regime, the Estado Novo (New State). Finally, we shall briefly comment on some aspects of the translation and publication of Woman and Home (1915), written by the North American author Orison Swett Marden, a book which stayed in print for quite a long time and managed to slip through the meshes of censorship, in spite of its defense of women’s rights and emancipation.

  • [1] More specialized guides, such as etiquette manuals, household guides, motherhoodguides, and cookbooks shall be left out. In her work A Mulher — Bibliografia portu-guesa anotada (1518-1998), published in 1999, Maria Regina Tavares da Silva offers
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