Jorge Amado was born on August 10th, 1912, on a farm called Auricídia in Ferradas, Itabuna, in southern Bahia. His father, João Amado de Faria, was a cocoa farmer, and his mother was named Eulália Leal Amado.
Jorge moved to Ilhéus when he was one-year-old, and spent the rest of his childhood there. For high school, he came to Salvador and studied at Colégio Antônio Vieira and Ginásio Ipiranga. During this time, Jorge began to work as a journalist and started his literary career. He was one of the founding members of the Academia dos Rebeldes (Academy of Rebels), a Modernist literary movement in Bahia.
Jorge published his first novel, O País do Carnaval (no English translation), in 1931. In 1933 he married Matilde Garcia Rosa and had his first child, Lila. In this same year he published his second novel, Cacau (no English translation).
Jorge graduated from Law School in Rio de Janeiro in 1935. As a communist militant, Jorge was exiled to Argentina and Uruguay during 1941-42. When he returned to Brazil in 1944, he separated from Matilde.
In 1945, Jorge was elected to the National Constituent Assembly as a representative of the Brazilian Communist Party. He received the most votes out of all of the candidates from São Paulo. As a deputy, Jorge introduced the law guaranteeing freedom of religious faith. This same year Jorge married Zélia Gattai.
In 1947, Jorge and Zélia’s first son. João Jorge, was born. The Communist Party was declared illegal in Brazil, and its members were persecuted and imprisoned. Jorge and his family sought refuge in France until 1950, when he was expelled. In 1949, his daughter Lila died in Rio de Janeiro. Between 1950 and 1952, Jorge and Zélia lived in Prague, where their daughter Paloma was born.
Upon returning to Brazil in 1955, Jorge Amado distanced himself from political militancy, and left the Communist Party a year later. He dedicated himself to literature.
On April 6, 1961 he was elected to chair number 23 of the Brazilian Academy of Letters, dedicated to José de Alencar and first occupied by Machado de Assis.
The literary work of Jorge Amado has been adapted into many versions for film, theater, and television, and has even been the theme of various samba schools around Brazil. His books were translated into 49 language, including versions in braile and audio.
In 1987 the Fundação Casa de Jorge Amado was inaugurated in Largo do Pelourinho, Salvador, Bahia. It maintains and preserves Jorge Amado’s archives, open to researchers. The mission of the Foundation is to promote cultural activites in Bahia.
Jorge Amado died in Salvador on August 6, 2001. His body was cremated and his ashes scattered in the garden of his house on Rua Alagoinhas, Rio Vermelho, on the day he would have turned 89.
The works of Jorge Amado earned many national and international prizes, including: Lenin Peace Prize (Soviet Union, 1951), Latinidade (France, 1971), Nonino (Italy, 1982), Dimitrov (Bulgária, 1989), Pablo Neruda (Russia, 1989), Etruria de Literatura (Italy, 1989), Cino Del Duca (France, 1990), Mediterranean (Italy, 1990), Vitaliano Brancatti (Italy, 1995), Luis de Camões (Brasil, Portugal, 1995), Jabuti (Brazil, 1959, 1961, 1997), and Ministry of Culture (Brazil, 1997).
Jorge received title of Commander and Grand Official in Venezuela, France, Spain, Portugal, Chile, and Argentina, in addition to receiving Doutor Honoris in 10 universities in Brazil, Italy, France, Portugal, and Israel. The honorary title from Sorbonne, France, was the last one he received in person, in 1998, during his last trip to Paris, when he was already sick.
Jorge Amado was proud to hold the title of Obá, and a civil post at the candomblé Ilê Axé Opô Afonjá, in Bahia.