Neruda was born on July 12 in 1904, in a small agrarian town of southern Chile. His real name is Neftalí Reyes Basualto. In 1910 he is admitted in the Liceo de Temuco, a city in the south of Chile, where he finishes secondary school ten years later.
In 1920 he writes a poem entitled "Hombre", which he signs with the "pseudonym" of Pablo Neruda, the name which he will continue to use for the rest of his life.
He travels to Santiago, the capital of Chile, to study French at the Instituto Pedagógico of the Universidad de Chile.
In October 1921 he achieves his first literary success obtaining the First Prize in the "Concurso de los Juegos Florales", organized by the Federación de Estudiantes, FECH, of the University, with the poem "La Canción de la Fiesta" (The Feast Song), published in the Students Federation's magazine "Claridad".
In 1923 he publishes his first book entitled "Crepusculario". At the age of 20 years, he is considered one of the most promising young poets with his book "Veinte poemas de amor y una canción desesperada".
In 1927, he sets off to Rangoon, in Burma, to work in a very modest consular position. In 1928, he is transferred to Ceylon and later in 1930, to Java. The world economic crisis forces him to return to Chile,where he arrives in 1932. During this traveling period throughout the Orient, he writes one of his masterpieces, the first volume of "Residencia en la Tierra".
In 1934 he is appointed as Consul in Madrid, where he meets the most reknown personalities of the so-called "Generación del 27", among them Alberti, Aleixandre, Altolaguirre, Gerardo Diego, Miguel Hernández, García Lorca, and others.
At the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War, while Madrid is subjected to the bombing and the blockade of Franco's troops, Neruda lives in Madrid. During that time, he writes "España en el Corazón", a unique book because it was written on paper produced in rather peculiar circumstances, during the Spanish Civil War. The book shown here was made in an old monastery that served the purposes of an improvised printing shop; due to the shortage of paper pulp, any kind of material was good: enemies' flags or blood-stained shirts of a Moorish soldier.
In 1940, he travels to Mexico where he fullfills consular duties until 1943.
Back in Chile, in the year 1945, he is elected Senator by the province of Tarapacá and Antofagasta. That same year he is awarded the National Literature Prize.
As a member of the Communist Party, in 1948 he is deprived of his parliamentary rights and persecuted, whilst the Communist Party outlawed.
In 1949, he takes refuge in France and later in Mexico, where he publishes the first edition of his most extraordinary work, "Canto General". In Chile, at the same time, a clandestine edition is published.
From then on, Neruda travels and lives in many different countries. He returns to Chile and in 1954, on his 50th birthday, he offers a series of conferences about his life and his poetry at the University of Chile, that would be the basis for his memoirs, which he publishes later, by chapters, in "O Cruzeiro" magazine and then in the book "Confieso que he vivido". During that same year he publishes his "Odas Elementales" (Elementary Odes); (Read and listen to the poet's voice reciting in Spanish one of his odes, "Oda a la Manzana").
That same year he donates his most valuable library and collection of peri-winkles to the University of Chile.
On the 30th of March, 1962, the Faculty of Philosophy and Education of the University of Chile, in the University's Honor Hall, receives Neruda as an academic member "in recognition of his vast poetic work of universal meaning". The welcome speech is made by Nicanor Parra.
At the age of 60, in 1964, Neruda writes another of his masterpieces, the five volumes of "Memorial de Isla Negra".
In 1969 he is proclaimed a presidential pre-candidate.
In 1971, he is appointed Ambassador to France.
That same year he is awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature.
He dies in September 1973.