Maria del Pilar Maspons i Labrós (Barcelona 1841-1907) was a poet, writer and folklorist.
She was interested in poetry from an early age and an active member of the Catalan cultural renaissance movement known as the "Renaixença". She made her literary debut in 1866 with the publication of her poem "Lloances" (Praises), which she signed with the nom de plume she would continue using for all her work thereafter: Maria de Bell-lloc.
The most important part of her literary work might be said to be concentrated between 1865 and 1882, when her writing was appearing in such reviews as Calendari Català, Lo Gay Saber, La Renaxensa, La Veu de Montserrat, La Llumanera de Nova York, La Veu de Catalunya and Il·lustració Catalana. She also published two collections of poems Salabrugas (Heather, 1874) and Poesies (Poems, undated).
The appearance of her historical novel Vigatans i botiflers (Loyalists and Traitors, 1878) meant that she would go down in the annals as the first woman novelist to be published in Catalan.
Maria del Pilar Maspons is also one of the first women folklorists and, together with her brother, Francesc de Sales Maspons and brother-in-law, Francesc Pelagi Briz, she carried out exhaustive fieldwork, collecting a great number of stories and legends, which she subsequently edited and published. Hence, in his presentation of the book Llegendari (Book of Legends), Joan Armangué endorses her as an essential member of the folklorist movement.
While she did not receive any prizes for her poetry, she was given a Special Mention for Narracions i llegendes (Stories and Legends) in the Jocs Florals literary competition in Barcelona in 1875, and also the "Artistic and Allegorical Jewel" award of the Catalan Excursions Association in 1880, for her collection of legends titled Montseny. Another collection of stories, Costums i tradicions del Vallès (Customs and Traditions of the Vallès) received the Scientific-Literary Prize of the Granollers Casino in 1882.
Web page: Anna de Lanuza for AELC.
Photograph: Elisabeth de Mur. Barcelona: La Novel·la Catalana, 1924.
Translation: Julie Wark.