1890
Ramona Victoria Epifanía Ocampo is born on April 7, to parents from well-off aristocratic families. Her father, Manuel Ocampo, is a structural engineer with a penchant for the melancholic; her mother is Ramona Aguirre, a beauty nicknamed La Morena because of her darker indigenous features. Victoria is the first of six daughters.

1891
Angélica Ocampo, the sister with whom Victoria would share the closest bond, is born. Victoria writes: “The games, the lessons, the walks, eating, sleeping, and laughter were all unimaginable without my sister.”
Villa Ocampo, completed a year earlier, is opened in San Isidro. At the time of the inauguration the property extends from Avenida Libertador to the Río de la Plata.

1894
Francisca (Pancha) Ocampo is born. In part because of the insistence of the girls’ Aunt Vitola, the sisters receive a strict and comprehensive education in French, history, religion, algebra, English, and music. Victoria has trouble with mathematics but excels in music and literature.

1896
The first family trip to Europe. Like any good aristocratic family of the era, they bring on board for their voyage a number of servants, two cows (in order to have fresh milk daily), and several crates of chickens. The Ocampos reside in Europe a little over a year. Victoria writes: “France was born for me when I began to become conscious of my own existence: the alphabet in which I learned to read was French, as was the hand that taught me to draw those first letters.” Recalling a visit to London, she describes in her Autobiografía: “we are waiting for the Queen to pass. I am already tired and bored. Finally a very nice coach arrives. Inside is an old, fat lady. That’s all. This they call the Jubilee.”
In Paris, Rosa Ocampo is born.

1897
The family returns to Buenos Aires. Victoria becomes a voracious reader, first of fairy tales: “one of the pleasures of reading were the sudden tears that seized us,” and later of the works of Jules Verne, Conan Doyle, Guy de Maupassant, and Edgar Allan Poe.

1898
Clara Ocampo is born.

1901
Victoria writes her first texts in French. After reading Racine’s Fedra she recites the work in front of her sister and one of her tutors, and it dawns on her that theater will always be for her an unanswered calling. Her father would later repeat: “they day one of my daughters gets on stage is the day I put a bullet through my head.”

1903
Silvina Ocampo is born.

1906
Victoria initiates a written correspondence with Delfina Bunge, to whom she would reveal her most intimate fears in lengthy letters sent daily until 1911. One letter pleads: “Will you be my friend? Will you listen to me? Do you find me passable?”
Constant Coquelin’s French theatre company arrives in Buenos Aires, featuring the actress Marguerite Moreno. Victoria is struck by this woman, who in her words “surpassed Sarah Bernhardt.” She convinces her parents to let her take lessons with the actress, and from that moment forth Victoria considers her life split in two: “to renounce this calling was for me a huge rupture,” and, “I was born to act… the far niente to which I am condemned is killing me.”

 

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