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Born in Recife, Pernambuco, on 15 March 1900, Gilberto Freyre was descended from traditional Brazilian Nordeste stock both on his father's side and on his mother's. However, the region was undergoing a decline at that time on account of the end of slavery and the various crises in the sugar economy. His father, Alfredo Freyre, had felt the impact of this decline directly since his plan to study in Coimbra had to be aborted because of the serious blow that the abolition of slavery in 1888 had on the family's finances. As a result, he remained in the country of his birth where he qualified as a lawyer, became a professor and a judge, and was later appointed as a Full Professor of Political Economy at the Recife Law Faculty. He was always interested in and kept himself up to date with European life, being "Frenchified" and an "admirer of England", as Gilberto himself would remember when talking about his origins ("Raízes brasileiras de um recifense sempre itinerante" [Brazilian roots of an ever itinerant Recifense], 1981, p. 129). Such Eurocentric traits as well as his great erudition would leave a profound mark on his son - or rather on his sons since Gilberto's brother, Ulisses, would also have them - complemented by the "less erudite yet not casual talk" of his mother, Francisca de Mello Freyre, "who knew her French and read Alencar and Eça" (idem, p. 128).