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Miguel de Cervantes - Biography & Works


Don Quixote

Miguel de CervantesMiguel de Cervantes (1547-1616) the famous Spanish novelist and poet, was born in Alcalá de Henares, a small town near Madrid. Cervantes created Don Quixote, the most prominent figure in Spanish literature of all the time.

Cervantes life was full of journeys and adventures. He spent most of his childhood moving from town to town while his father Rodrigo de Cervantes was looking for work.
He studied in Madrid between 1568 and 1569.

In 1570 Cervantes participated in the sea battle at Lepanto (1571), where his left hand was permanently wounded. He earned his nickname in this battle – “el manco de Lepanto” (the cripple of Lepanto).

In 1575 Cervantes set out with his brother Rodrigo on the galley “El Sol” for Spain. Pirates captured their ship and the brothers were taken to Algiers as slaves. Cervantes spent five years as a slave awaiting his family to raise enough money to pay his ransom. Cervantes was released in 1580, with the payment of 500 escudos raised by his family. He returned to Madrid where he held several temporary administrative posts.

In 1584 Miguel de Cervantes married Catalina de Salazar y Palacios, who was 18 years younger than him. He left her in the late 1580s.

Cervantes started his literary career in Andalusia and his first play “Los Tratos de Argel” (The Traffic of Algiers) was published in 1580. The play was based on his experiences as a Moorish slave. Cervantes published his first work in prose, “La Galatea”, in 1585.

The first part of Cervantes’ most acclaimed work “Don Quixote” appeared in 1605. As a marvelous parody of the popular romances of chivalry, “Don Quixote” was a huge and instant success. The second part of the adventures of the knight of La Mancha appeared in 1615.

During his lifetime Cervantes wrote between 20 and 30 plays, but only two of them have survived. He also wrote several short novels.

In 1606 Cervantes settled permanently in Madrid.
He died on April 23, 1616.

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