Ferro, Antônio

(1895-1956)
   Writer, journalist, cultural leader, and diplomat in the early and middle phases of the Estado Novo. Born into a family with strong republican sympathies and enrolled as a student in Lisbon University's Law Faculty, Ferro soon abandoned his faith in the chaotic republic, quit studying law, and became a poet, writer, and journalist. His reputation as a modernist and nationalist who was also a cosmopolitan, celebrated, prolific, and well-traveled journalist was acquired during the years 1917-33, when his publications attracted much public attention. Ferro published best-selling accounts include exclusive personal interviews of right-wing dictators in Italy, Spain, and other countries; portraits of the United States, including Hollywood in the 1920s; and a depiction of the turbulent Spanish Republic prior to the Spanish Civil War.
   The best-selling book that brought Ferro a key government job with the Estado Novo was composed of a series of 1932 interviews with Portugal's dictator, Salazar-O Homem e a Sua Obra (1933). This sensational book advanced an appealing image of Antônio de Oliveira Salazar, recently appointed premier by the military. The next year, Salazar invited Ferro to head the government's new information arm, Secretariado de Propaganda Nacional, which was renamed Secretariado Nacional da Informação (SNI) in 1944. From 1933 to 1949, Ferro directed this agency. Later alienated by the political situation, he was posted as a diplomat to Berne and Rome. Ferro married the Lisbon-based writer Maria Fernanda de Castro (1900-94). She collaborated with him on many writing and film projects. Ferro's so-called "policy of the Spirit" was a cultural policy that blended modernism, nationalism, and conservative values in the plastic and performing arts, film, and literature. After his diplomatic service abroad, he died in Lisbon.
   See also Art; Cinema; Literature.

Historical dictionary of Portugal 3rd ed.. . 2014.

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