The son of Dr. Manuel Herrera y Obes and nephew of government minister Dr. Julio Herrera y Obes, who would go on to become president of Uruguay, Julio Herrera y Reissig was born in Montevideo into a wealthy patrician family with connections to the social and cultural scene.
His only material limitation was his precarious health. In 1892, at age seventeen, a congenital heart defect, aggravated by typhoid fever, forced him to abandon his studies. Nor was he able to travel any great distance, and apart from a visit to Buenos Aires and a few short trips to the Uruguayan interior, he remained confined to Montevideo.
He relieved his boredom by becoming an avid reader, and beginning in 1900, he began holding literary gatherings at his family mansion, in the penthouse nicknamed La Torre de los Panoramas for its spectacular views of the Río de la Plata.
There, he underwent a transformation from Romanticist to avant-garde Modernist and Surrealist, earning himself posthumous recognition as a major figure in the development of 20th century Latin American poetry, alongside Leopoldo Lugones, Ricardo Jaimes Freyre, and Salvador Diaz Mirón
He died in Montevideo at the age of 35, a few years before the publication of his works drew widespread praise from the literary community. The Uruguayan writer Ángel Rama marvelled at his achievement: