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Who is Federico Garcia Lorca?

By Kathy Hawkins
Updated May 23, 2024
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Federico Garcia Lorca is a well-known Spanish poet and playwright who lived from 1895 to 1936. He was born to a wealthy family in a small town, Fuente Vaqueros, in Grenada, and became passionate about the creative arts from a young age. His first book, a collection of prose pieces called Impresiones y Paisajes, was published when Federico Garcia Lorca was only 20 years old.

The following year, Federico Garcia Lorca moved to Madrid and became deeply involved with the surrealist art movement. He became friends with artist Salvador Dali and filmmaker Luis Buñuel; over the years, historians have speculated that Lorca and Dali were lovers for a period of time.

During the 1920s, Federico Garcia Lorca published three highly acclaimed books of poetry and a successful play. His work was acclaimed for its surrealist imagery and beauty. One of his most well-known poems, ;Romance Sonambulo," was written during this period. Though Federico Garcia Lorca wrote in Spanish, his works have since been translated into many different languages.

From 1929 to 1930, Federico Garcia Lorca traveled to New York City to escape romantic problems in his personal life. There, he studied at Columbia University and wrote another book of poetry, Poeta en Nueva York, which primarily deals with the isolation of living in a foreign land. He also wrote two plays during his time in New York, which were very experimental.

On Federico Garcia Lorca's return to Spain in 1930, he accepted a position as director of a university theater company, for which he wrote, directed, and acted in plays. His troupe toured through some of Spain's most rural regions, helping to share reinterpretations of classic Spanish culture with all of its citizens. The company disbanded in 1936, however, when the Spanish Civil War began.

At that time, Federico Garcia Lorca returned to his hometown of Grenada, which was the most conservative part of Spain, though it is likely he knew that it was dangerous for him to be there. Immediately, he and his brother-in-law, a socialist mayor, were arrested. Because Federico Garcia Lorca was homosexual and politically liberal, he was considered an enemy of the nationalist movement, and was executed and thrown in an unmarked grave. The Spanish Civil War claimed more than 50,000 victims by execution, but Federico Garcia Lorca is probably the most famous of those murdered in the movement. Today, he is seen as a martyr figure in much of Spanish society.

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