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Teolinda Gersão was born in Coimbra. She studied German, English, and Romance Languages at the Universities of Coimbra, Tuebingen, and Berlin. She was a lecturer in Portuguese at the Technical University of Berlin, a member of the teaching staff of the Lisbon Arts Faculty, and later professor at the New University of Lisbon, where she taught German Literature and Comparative Literature until 1995. Since then, she has devoted herself entirely to writing. She is the author of twelve books. Her first novel, O Silencio [The Silence], published in 1981, was awarded the PEN Club prize for fiction and was named "book of the year," and was later named one of the one hundred best Portuguese books of the twentieth century. She won another PEN prize for fiction in 1989 and has won the Grand Prix of the Portuguese Writers' Association, the Critics Award of the International Critics Literary Association (ICLA), and the Grand Prix for Short Story Camilo Castello Branco, and was shortlisted for the European Prize for the Novel for Aristeion. She lived for two years in São Paulo and for some time in Mozambique, the setting for her novel of 1997 A Árvore das Palavras [The Tree of Words].