Machado de Assis was the son of relatively poor parents. He was mulatto – his mother was white (from the Azores Islands) and his father predominantly black – although it is probable that his family had been free for one or two generations. They were dependents (agregados) of a powerful family who lived on the outskirts of Rio. The young Assis, obviously ambitious and tenacious, entered the field of letters, specifically journalism, one of the few careers that could give him a modicum of independence in the Brazil of the 1850s. He was helped by one of the most admirable figures of the time, the first important Brazilian publisher, Francisco de Paula Brito (1809-1861), also mulatto and founder of the Petalógica, a …
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Gledson, John Angus. "J. A. Machado de Assis". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 17 February 2010
[http://www.litencyc.com/php/speople.php?rec=true&UID=11973, accessed 22 May 2017.]