The Author of Don Quixote
Spain celebrated National Day in October (Día de la Hispanidad) which commemorates the date that Christopher Columbus set foot in the Americas for the first time: 12th October 1492. However, it is not only a festivity in Spain, but in many Latin American countries, which celebrate the Hispanic culture in the world. And this year this event is undoubtedly linked to the 400th anniversary of the death of the great Spanish writer Cervantes, author of Don Quixote.
Whilst in England 2016 is the Year of Shakespeare, in Spain it is the Year of Cervantes, because of the deaths of these two literary geniuses coinciding almost exactly to the day.
Although, the novel of Don Quixote and his protagonist is known throughout the world, the author remains a mystery to most people. Few know about this writer and the adventurous life he had, a life that would not envy the adventures lived by the dreamer-wandering knight he created. Cervantes was a writer, a soldier, a tax collector, a slave and even a spy who always had a lover by his side.
Miguel de Cervantes was born in Alcalá de Henares, a city near Madrid, in 1547. The date of his birth is not certain but is assumed to have been 29th of September, since this is the day of San Miguel.
As a soldier, Cervantes travelled to Italy for what would soon become the battle that he would remember the most since he was wounded and lost the use of his left hand. This is the Battle of Lepanto, in Greece, where they fought against the Ottomans and as a result many of the injured, Cervantes among them, were taken to hospitals in Sicily. When Cervantes recovered, he went back to the military and joined the campaigns in the Mediterranean. Cervantes youth was spent wildly as between campaigns he would always go to Naples spending his time in taverns and with women.
In 1575, in his way back to Spain, pirates captured him and took him to Algiers, where he would be captive for five years, until he finally got his freedom and went back to Spain, to Valencia. But a year later he needed to leave Spain again to go to Oran, assigned with a mission of which little is known. Back in Spain, he married Catalina Palacios, a young lady half his age. He moved to Seville as a tax collector and there he was imprisoned, and it is believed that it was then when he started writing Don Quixote.
In 1605, he and his family, made up of his wife, his daughter, his sister and his niece, settled in Madrid, where he sold the first part of Don Quixote and started writing exclusively until his death in 1616.