Érico Veríssimo (December 17, 1905 - November 28, 1975) is an important Brazilian writer, who was born in Rio Grande do Sul. His father, heir of a rich family in Cruz Alta, Rio Grande do Sul, met financial ruin during his son's youth. Veríssimo worked in a pharmacy before obtaining a job at Editora Globo, a book publisher, where he translated and released works of writers like Aldous Huxley. During the Second World War, he went to the United States. This period of his life was recorded in some of his books, including: Gato Preto em Campo de Neve ("Black Cat in a Snow Field"), A Volta do Gato Preto ("The Return of the Black Cat"), and História da Literatura Brasileira ("History of Brazilian Literature"), which contains some of his lectures at UCLA. His epic O Tempo e o Vento ("The Time and the Wind'") became one of the great masterpieces of the Brazilian novel, alongside Os Sertões by Euclides da Cunha, and Grande Sertão: Veredas by Guimarães Rosa.
He was the father of another famous writer of Rio Grande do Sul, Luis Fernando Veríssimo.
Érico Veríssimo was the son of Sebastião Veríssimo da Fonseca and Abegahy Lopes Veríssimo. He was born into a wealthy family that went bankrupt, and consequentially didn't manage to complete secondary school because of the need to work.
Veríssimo settled in Cruz Alta as the owner of a drugstore, but was unsuccessful. He then moved to Porto Alegre in 1930, willing to live solely by selling his writing. There he began to live around writers of renown, such as Mário Quintana, Augusto Meyer, Guilhermino César and others. In the following year, he was hired to occupy the position of secretary of edition of the Revista do Globo, of which he would become editor in 1933. He then undertook the whole editorial project at Editora Globo, propelling its nationwide fame.
He publish his first work, Fantoches ("Puppets"), in 1932, with a sequence of short stories, mostly in the form of short plays. The following year, he saw his first great success with the romance Clarissa.
Veríssimo married in 1931 to Mafalda Volpe and had two children, Luis Fernando Veríssimo, also a writer, and Clarissa.
In 1943 he moved with his family to the US, where he gave lessons on Brazilian Literature in the University of Berkeley, until 1945. Between 1953 and 1956 he was director of the Department of Cultural Affairs of the Organization of American States, in Washington, DC. From these trips and from the stay in the US, two books originated: Gato Preto em Campo de Neve ("Black Cat in a Snow Field") in 1941, and A Volta do Gato Preto ("The Return of the Black Cat") in 1947.
His historical trilogy O Tempo e o Vento ("The Time and the Wind") is considered as his greatest work, written in the period of 1949-1961, from which arose primordial characters such as Ana Terra and Capitão Rodrigo that went on to become popular amongst his readers.
In 1965 Veríssimo published the romance O Senhor Embaixador ("His Excellency, the Ambassador"), in which he reflected upon the deviations of Latin America.
In the romance Incidente em Antares ("Incident in Antares"), written in 1971, he traces a parallel with Brazilian politics with the use of fantasy, with the rebellion of corpses during a strike of the gravekeepers, in the fictitious city of Antares.
After suffering from a heart attack in 1975, Veríssimo was unable to complete the second volume of his autobiography entitled Solo de Clarineta ("Clarinet Solo"), which was intended to be a trilogy, apart from a romance which would be entitled A Hora do Sétimo Anjo ("The Hour of the Last Angel").