Miguel Riofrío Sánchez (Loja, Ecuador, September 7, 1822 – Lima, Peru, October 11, 1879) was an Ecuadorian poet, novelist, journalist, orator, educator, lawyer, and politician. He is best known today as the author of “La Emancipada,” Ecuador’s first novel, which was published in installments in the newspaper La Unión in 1863. Many experts however argue that because the book is usually less than 100 pages long in print, it is really a novella rather than a novel, and that Ecuador’s first novel is in fact “Cumanda” (1879) by Juan León Mera. Nonetheless, Miguel Riofro’s “La Emancipada” has been accepted as Ecuador’s first novel, thanks to the arguments of the well-known and respected Ecuadorian writer Alejandro Carrión (1915-1992).
He was born in Loja, via Malacatos at kilometer 15 in a neighborhood called “Tres Leguas”. His parents were: José María Riofrío and Custodia Pedreros. He was raised by his paternal family. His primary and secondary studies were carried out in the city of Loja. In 1838 he traveled to Quito and enrolled in the convent of San Fernando, where he was a student of Francisco Montalvo. In 1840 he began his law studies at the Central University of Ecuador, where he was a classmate of García Moreno and a student of Pedro Cevallos, who transmitted his love for liberalism to him. Graduating as a lawyer in 1844, this being his main profession that he exercised as an employee of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. In 1851 he joined the Supreme Court of Justice.
In 1852 he was appointed deputy for Loja. He was a political opponent of the conservative Gabriel García Moreno. Because of his political position he was persecuted and exiled. In 1860, harassed by political persecution, he moved to Piura, where he devoted himself to teaching and press work. Later he settled in Lima, where he married Josefa Correa y Santiago from Peru.
Journalist and writer
He was a journalist and writer and the founder of some newspapers. Literary critics have written highly of Riofrío as a poet, but they have also recognized him as Ecuadorian literature‘s first social realist because of his novels “La emancipada” and “María.”
In 1870, he married Josefa Correa y Santiago, a Peruvian. Their children’s names were Francisco, Carmela, and Miguel.
- La emancipada (1863)
- Apuntes de viaje de un proscrito ecuatoriano(1863)
- Biografía de Pedro Moncayo (1872)
- De la penumbra a la luz (1882)
- La casita de los homneros (1885)