Elena Poniatowska, a tour around the Mexican house of the "Red Princess"
The writer and journalist wants her legacy to remain in Mexico and has given an immense gift to her adopted country.
More than half a century of political and intellectual life can be found within the four walls of the house of writer and journalist Elena Poniatowska, located in the Escadón neighborhood of the Mexican capital. A space in which the so-called "Red Princess" accumulated a great treasure composed of more than 20,000 books, 10,000 photographs, 1,500 hours of audio, 200 hours of video and, if that were not enough, half a million writings among manuscripts and notebooks.
Now the prolific author, who was born in France but has always had Mexico in her heart, has wanted to leave her adopted country the enormous collection of one of the most inspired minds of the contemporary world, creating the Elena Poniatowska Foundation. Where, in addition to disseminating her work, she will host workshops, exhibitions and conferences on the themes that have been at the forefront of her career: literature and journalism.
"The idea to create the foundation came from my son Felipe Haro, who told me that all the archives were going somewhere else, to the United States. A wave of nationalism invaded him and it's good that things stay in Mexico," the writer says, stressing that prestigious universities like Stanford and Princeton wanted to buy her archive, but mother and son were adamant that she should stay in the country that took in Poniatowska when she arrived as a refugee in 1941.
Although many of her works are still in her home in Chimalistac, they will gradually be moved to the foundation, which has two public libraries, an auditorium, an exhibition hall and an archive that will be digitized this year. Meanwhile, the lucid and warm 86-year-old writer and journalist always keeps the doors of her home open to receive students, reporters, admirers and anyone interested in her work.
A relevant member of a generation of writers that includes personalities like Carlos Fuentes or Héctor Azar, with whom Poniatowska used to meet at the Mexican Writers' Center directed by his friend Juan Rulfo, Poniatowska's historical and cultural legacy is immeasurable.
In her archives you will find Elena Poniatowska's correspondence with artists and intellectuals over the last half century, as well as her journalistic work since 1953. You will also find the true story of a daughter of the aristocracy who fled from Nazism and embraced Mexico as part of herself. But also, and by express wish of both the writer and her son, this space is at the service of the community in such hard and violent times as the country is going through.
In fact, the neighbors of the neighborhood were the first to come and visit the house of their most beloved and admired neighbor.
Elena Poniatowska was the first woman to receive the National Journalism Award in 1978 and has been, along with Oriana Fallaci, one of the great contemporary chroniclers, who has always put her journalistic prose at the service of objectivity to tell stories of deep social significance, giving voice to testimonies as she did in her acclaimed book La noche de Tlatelolco (1971) about the massacre of students in the Plaza de las Tres Culturas.
Many of her works focus on the lives of other great women, such as the biography dedicated to the painter Leonora Carrington or her portraits of women authors who have been made invisible in the history of Mexican literature.