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Table of Contents
Miguel de Cervantes is considered the most important Spanish author of all time. Although he’s mainly known for Don Quixote, the universally known adventure book about a Spanish knight who is slightly mad, Cervantes was a very prolific writer and he wrote several novels and quite a few poems and plays.
See the fact file below for more information on the Miguel de Cervantes or alternatively, you can download our 22-page Miguel de Cervantes worksheet pack to utilise within the classroom or home environment.
Key Facts & Information
- The fourth child of surgeon Don Rodrigo de Cervantes and doña Leonor de Cortinas, Miguel de Cervantes was born in 1547 near Madrid in the city of Alcalá de Henares, Spain.
- His life was full of hardships and adventures. While his father hunted for work, Miguel’s childhood was spent moving from one place to another.
- Whatever his family’s financial conditions, Cervantes was an avid reader as a child—a skill he was reportedly taught by a relative. But whether he had much in the way of a formal education has been a subject of debate among scholars.
- Based on analyses of Cervantes’s later work, some believe that he may have been taught by the Jesuits, however, others dispute this claim.
- Cervantes’ first known published writing dates back to 1569, when he contributed some poetry to a memorial collection after the death of Elizabeth of Valois, the wife of Spain’s King Philip II. But by the following year, Cervantes had put his pen aside and, instead, picked up a weapon, joining a Spanish military unit in Italy.
- Miguel served as a soldier in a Spanish Regiment in Naples during 1570 after studying literature and philosophy in Italy. His left hand became useless when he encountered an injury aboard the ship Marquesa during the Battle of Lepanto in 1571.
- In 1575, when he was returning to Spain, the boat de Cervantes and his brother traveled on was attacked by Algerian corsairs under the command of Arnaut Mami, an Albanian renegade that was the terror of the narrow seas at that time.
- They were taken to Algiers and Cervantes was made a slave. He made them think he was someone important so a ransom was asked for, consisting of 500 gold coins. He made several unsuccessful escape attempts but was released after five years of slavery when his mother had finally raised enough money to pay the ransom.
- Upon return to Madrid in 1580, Cervantes supported his expenses by undertaking several low paying jobs which did little to improve his financial crisis.
Success in Writing
- In 1585, Cervantes published his first novel, La Galatea, but the pastoral romance failed to make much of a splash. Around the same time, Cervantes tried to make it to the then-lucrative world of theater. Plays were an important form of entertainment in Spain during the era, and a successful playwright could earn a good living. Unfortunately, Cervantes achieved neither fortune nor fame with his plays, and only two have survived.
- In the late 1580s, Cervantes began working for the Spanish Armada as a commissary. It was a thankless job, which involved collecting grain supplies from rural communities. When many did not want to provide the required goods, Cervantes was charged with mismanagement and ended up in prison. However, it was during this trying time that he began to write some of literature’s greatest masterpieces.
- In 1605, Cervantes published the first part of Don Quixote, a novel that tells the story of an elderly man who becomes so enamored by the old stories of brave knights that he seeks out his own adventures.
- The title character soon gets lost in his own fantasy world, believing he is one of these knights, and convinces a poor peasant, Sancho Panza, to serve as his squire. In one scene, the deluded Don Quixote even fights a windmill, mistaking it for a giant. Quixote finally regains his senses before the novel ends.
- Don Quixote became the world’s first best seller and was eventually translated into more than 60 different languages. Cervantes published the second part of the story in 1615.
- Cervantes lived in Seville from 1595 to 1600. Later he moved to Madrid, where he spent the rest of his life, after the publication of Don Quixote. In 1613, Cervantes published The Exemplary Novels of Cervantes which comprised of short stories about gypsies and pirates. The book was largely inspired by Miguel’s own life and experiences.
- Despite its undisputed place in the literary canon, Don Quixote did not make Cervantes wealthy at the time, as authors did not receive royalties for their works.
- However, he continued to write, setting to work on The Labors of Persiles and Sigismunda, though he would not complete it before his death on April 22, 1616, in Madrid. He was buried on the grounds of the Convent of the Barefoot Trinitarians in Madrid, but the exact whereabouts of his grave within the tiny convent chapel are unknown.
- Since his passing, Cervantes has been credited with writing the first modern novel. His work has inspired countless other authors throughout the centuries—including Gustave Flaubert, Henry Fielding, and Fyodor Dostoyevsky—and the story of Don Quixote has been retold in many ways, including in the popular musical The Man of La Mancha and in an artwork by Pablo Picasso.
Miguel de Cervantes Worksheets
This is a fantastic bundle which includes everything you need to know about Miguel de Cervantes across 22 in-depth pages. These are ready-to-use Miguel de Cervantes worksheets that are perfect for teaching students about Miguel de Cervantes who is considered the most important Spanish author of all time. Although he’s mainly known for Don Quixote, the universally known adventure book about a Spanish knight who is slightly mad, Cervantes was a very prolific writer and he wrote several novels and quite a few poems and plays.
Complete List Of Included Worksheets
- Authors Online
- Great Spanish Playwrights
- As Told By Miguel
- Quixote and Friends
- Quixote’s Colors
- Medieval Vocabulary
- Modern Quixote
- Relevant Renaissance
- What’s in a Name?
- A Hero’s Story
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Use With Any Curriculum
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