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Gabriel Garcia Marquez was one of the most influential writers of the 20th century and a key figure in the Latin American literary renaissance of the 1960s and 1970s. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1982 for his novels and short stories, in which the fantastic and the realistic are combined in a richly composed world of imagination, reflecting a continent’s life and conflicts.
See the fact file below for more information on the Gabriel Garcia Marquez or alternatively, you can download our 24-page Gabriel Garcia Marquez worksheet pack to utilise within the classroom or home environment.
Key Facts & Information
- Gabriel Jose de la Concordia Garcia Marquez, or “Gabo” or “Gabito”, was born on March 6, 1927, in the town of Aracataca, Colombia, and the eldest of Luisa Santiaga Marquez and Gabriel Eligio Garcia.
- Gabo was 8 years old when his parents moved away so his father could find a job. He was mainly raised in a large crumbling house by his maternal grandparents.
- Gabo spent his first eight years with his grandparents and had developed a special bond with both of them. He enjoyed listening to his grandmother’s stories about magic, superstitions, folk tales, and dancing ghosts.
- His grandfather, whom Gabo called ‘Papalelo’, was a retired army Colonel who taught him everything there was to know about politics and helped shape his ideological outlooks.
- When García Márquez was 10 years old, his grandfather died, so Gabito and his two siblings went to live with their parents in Barranquilla. It was a difficult time for the boy, having only known his parents as infrequent visitors.
- García Márquez was educated at a Jesuit secondary school where he was known as a brilliant student who wore his father’s old suits and recited long works of poetry from memory.
- In 1946, he was granted a scholarship and began studying law at the prestigious National University of Bogota, but he dropped out a year later to pursue journalism.
A Rough Start for Gabo
- He published his first story while in university, and began his career in journalism writing for many local newspapers, such as ‘El Universal’ in Cartagena and ‘El Heraldo’ in Barranquilla, especially during the La Violencia, a time of murderous upheaval in Colombia.
- During the mid-1950s, García Márquez was forced to immigrate to Europe after writing a controversial article that stoked the wrath of military dictator Gustavo Rojas Pinilla.
- He spent two years there as a foreign correspondent and worked to better his writing by voraciously reading many international authors works, such as Americans Hemingway, Faulkner, Twain and Melville; and Europeans Dickens, Tolstoy, Proust, Kafka and Virginia Woolf.
- Meanwhile, in Colombia, the newspaper company García Márquez worked for was shut down by the Rojas Pinilla regime. Stranded in Paris, he scavenged and sold bottles to survive, but he managed to begin a short novel, In Evil Hour.
- He took time off from writing In Evil Hour in 1957 to complete another short novel, No One Writes to the Colonel, about an impoverished retired army officer who waits endlessly for a letter replying to his requests for a military pension.
- García Márquez eventually returned to Colombia and worked with publications based in Venezuela and Cuba. He married Mercedes Barcha Pardo in 1958 and had two children, Rodrigo and Gonzalo.
- García Márquez alternated between journalism and fiction in the late 1950s. He wrote a short-story collection, “Big Mama’s Funeral,” which is set in Macondo and incorporates the kind of magical elements he would master in “One Hundred Years of Solitude.”
- From 1959 to 1961 he supported Fidel Castro’s revolution and wrote for Prensa Latina, the official Cuban press agency.
- García Márquez’s friendship with the Cuban revolutionary, to some, was the famed novelist’s one glaring flaw.
One Hundred Years of Solitude
- García Márquez moved to Mexico City in 1961, where he would live on and off for the rest of his life. It was there, in 1965, after a four-year dry spell in which he wrote no fiction, that García Márquez wrote Cien años de soledad or One Hundred Years of Solitude.
- He got the idea for this most famous work while he was driving from Mexico City to Acapulco. García Márquez had to spent 18 undistracted months of writing to finish up to 1,300 pages of manuscript, while his family went into debt.
- Published in 1967, the novel’s first Spanish edition sold out in a week, and over the next 30 years, it sold more than 25 million copies and has been translated into more than 30 languages.
- Through his novel, García Márquez introduced an array of readers to magical realism, a genre that combines more conventional storytelling forms with vivid, layered fantasy.
- The plot is set in Macondo, a town based on his own hometown of Aracataca, and its saga follows five generations of descendants of José Arcadio Buendía and his wife Ursula, and the city they founded.
- Events in the story include a plague of insomnia, ghosts that grow old, a priest who levitates when he drinks hot chocolate, a woman who ascends into heaven while doing the laundry, and rain which lasts four years, 11 weeks and two days.
- Instantly gaining international commendation, One Hundred Years of Solitude was García Márquez’s most popular novel and it got him the Romulo Gallegos Prize in 1972 and the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1982.
- Because of his immense popularity, García Márquez was fortunate enough to gain important friendships with many influential men which led to his participation in various negotiations between the Colombian government and the guerillas.
- In 1973, when Dictator General Augusto Pinochet came to power in Chile, García Márquez vowed never to write as long as General Pinochet remained in power. The dictatorship lasted 17 years, but Garcia Marquez released himself from his vow well before it ended.
- He published The Autumn of the Patriarch in 1975 which talks about a dictator in a phantasmagorical Latin American state who rules for so many decades that nobody can recall what life was like before him.
- As Garcia Marquez had predicted, some critics faulted the work for not matching the artistry of One Hundred Years of Solitude but others raved about it, and it became a global bestseller that he claimed was his best novel.
- In “Chronicle of a Death Foretold,” published in 1981, García Márquez used journalistic techniques to tell a story, apparently drawn from a real incident, in which the brothers of a woman who has lost her virginity murder the man responsible, Santiago Nasar. The brothers announce their intention to avenge their family honor, but because of a variety of odd circumstances, Nasar remains unaware of his impending fate.
- Love in the Time of Cholera, published in 1985, was García Márquez’s most romantic novel and tells the story of the resumption of a passionate relationship between a recently widowed septuagenarian and the lover she had broken up with more than 50 years before.
- Cholera in the title refers to both the disease and anger taken to the extreme of warfare.
Death and Legacy
- In 1999, García Márquez was diagnosed with lymphoma, but continued to write until 2004, when reviews of “Memories of My Melancholy Whores” were mixed—it was banned in Iran. After that, he slowly sank into dementia, dying in Mexico City on April 17, 2014.
- In addition to his unforgettable prose works, García Márquez brought world attention to the Latin American literary scene, set up an International Film School near Havana, and a school of journalism on the Caribbean coast.
Gabriel Garcia Marquez Worksheets
This is a fantastic bundle which includes everything you need to know about Gabriel Garcia Marquez across 24 in-depth pages. These are ready-to-use Gabriel Garcia Marquez worksheets that are perfect for teaching students about Gabriel Garcia Marquez who was one of the most influential writers of the 20th century and a key figure in the Latin American literary renaissance of the 1960s and 1970s. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1982 for his novels and short stories, in which the fantastic and the realistic are combined in a richly composed world of imagination, reflecting a continent’s life and conflicts.
Complete List Of Included Worksheets
- Authors Online
- Chronicle of a Life Foretold
- According to Gabo
- Gabo’s Reading List
- Gabito’s Book
- South American Pride
- Breaking News
- Nobel Laureates
- Macondo On My Mind
- Mis Abuelos
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