Ocampo was born in Buenos Aires, the youngest of the six children of Manuel Ocampo and Ramona Aguirre. She was educated at home by tutors. One of her sisters was Victoria Ocampo, the publisher of the literarily important Argentine magazine Sur. She studied drawing in Paris under Giorgio de Chirico. She was married to Adolfo Bioy Casares, whose lover she became (1933) when Bioy was 19. They were married in 1940. In 1954 she adopted Bioy’s daughter with another woman, Marta Bioy Ocampo (1954–94), who was killed in an automobile accident just three weeks after Silvina Ocampo’s death, leaving two children.
Ocampo began as a writer with the book of short stories Viaje olvidado in 1937, and followed up with three books of poetry, Enumeración de la patria, Espacios métricos and Los sonetos del jardín. With Espacios métricos, which had been published in 1942 by the publishing house Sur, she won the Premio Municipal in 1954. She won the second prize in the National Poetry Comptetition for Los nombres in 1953 and came back to win the first place prize in 1962 withLo amargo por dulce.
Writing with Adolfo Bioy Casares, Ocampo published Los que aman, odian, in 1946, and with J. R. Wilcock she published the theatrical work Los Traidores in 1956. With Borges and Bioy Casares, Ocampo co-authored the celebrated Antología de la literatura fantástica in 1940, and also the Antología poética Argentina in 1941.
She was also a prolific translator of Dickinson, Poe, Melville, and Swedenborgand wrote plays and tales for children. The writer and filmmaker Edgardo Cozarinsky once wrote, “For decades, Silvina Ocampo was the best kept secret of Argentine letters.”
“Silvina Ocampo is one of our best writers. Her stories have no equal in our literature.” Jorge Luis Borges
“Silvina Ocampo is, together with Borges and Garcia Marquez, the leading writer in Spanish.” Jorge Amado
“She lived a little in the shadow of her sister Victoria on the one hand and of her husband Bioy Casares and Borges on the other. She was an extravagant woman when writing her stories, short and crystalline, she was perfect.”Cesar Aira