||Jorge Luis Borges was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina on August 24, 1899, to Jorge
Guillermo Borges Haslam and his wife Leonor Acevedo Suárez. Borges grew up
in a bookish and genteel household, in which memories of family history and
accomplishments were strong. From his paternal grandmother Fanny Haslam he learned
to speak and read English, and even as a child he had a strongly-developed interest
in literature, language, and the written word generally.
||In 1914, the Borges family settled in Geneva, Switzerland, where Jorge Luis and his
sister Norah continued their schooling. Jorge Luis continued to read widely,
learning French and German, and, in 1918, receiving the baccalaurèat from
the Collège de Genève. At the end of the First World War the
Borges family did not immediately return to Argentina but spent several years
Spain. In Madrid, Borges became involved in the avant garde Ultraist movement,
seeds of which he took back with him to Argentina.
||In 1921, Borges began the short-lived broadsheet poetry serial publication Prisma, following in 1922 with Proa, the second series (1924-1926) of which contained contributions by
Borges in all but one of its fifteen numbers. Later in the decade he was a frequent
contributor to Martín Fierro, and, from
1931, the journal Sur.
||Throughout the 1930s Borges pursued a career in literary journalism, writing poetry,
short stories, and essays. From 1938 he was a cataloger in a branch of the
Biblioteca Pública de Buenos Aires, a position that, it is said, permitted
him ample time to work at his career as a literary writer.
||During the 1940s, Borges embarked on a career as a public speaker and teacher, while
continuing with his writing. During that decade his two best-known titles, Ficciones (1944) and El
Aleph (1949), both collections of short stories, were published. With the
consolidation of political power by Juan Perón in Argentina in 1946 Borges
was forced from his position in the Buenos Aires library. Quixotically,
Perón's gesture had the effect of promoting Borges as a spokesman for
Argentina's political opposition.
||By the 1950s, Borges's impaired vision was rapidly failing, and he was obliged to
live with his mother so she might act as his secretary. With the ouster of
Perón in 1955 Borges was named director of Argentina's Biblioteca Nacional,
and as the culmination of growing regard for his work on the international scene
was in 1961 the co-recipient (with Samuel Beckett) of the Prix International.
"As a consequence of that prize," Borges said, "my books mushroomed overnight throughout the western
world." Concurrently with the Prix International Borges was named to the
Tinker Chair at the University of Texas, leading to a lecture tour of the United
||Through the 1960s and beyond, as he was better-known and increasingly widely-read,
Borges traveled and lectured extensively. In 1967, Borges, working with the American
scholar Norman Thomas Di Giovanni, began a project of translating his works into
English. The program of translation, which began with a bilingual edition entitled
Selected Poems, 1923-1967, continued until 1972.
On the domestic political front, the return of Juan Perón from exile and
his election to the presidency in 1973 led to Borges's immediate resignation as
director of the Bibioteca Nacional.
||His 1967 marriage to Elsa Astete Millán failed after three years and Borges
turned once again to his mother as secretary. Following her death in 1975,
María Kodama became Borges's secretary. In the last years of his life he
bequeathed his literary properties to her, and shortly before his own death in
Geneva, on 14 June 1986, Borges and Kodama were married.