Camilo José Cela Biography

(Winner of 1989 Nobel Prize in Literature)

Birthday: May 11, 1916 (Taurus)

Born In: Iria Flavia, Spain

Camilo José Cela was a renowned Spanish writer from the post war Spanish literature period. For his contribution to the literature, he was awarded with Nobel Prize in 1989. Before venturing into a career in literature, he explored other fields like medicine, philosophy and law. However, during the the Spanish Civil War, he gave up his studies and began his career in literature. Camilo José Cela strived to write novels of a free genre; he used his creativity and observation to present each of his novels as different from the previous. He was considered a pioneer in the ‘tremendismo’ style of narration, which was marked by a tendency to emphasize violence and grotesque imagery. Camilo José Cela’s novels were a mix of various elements like tenderness, oral nonchalance, horror, humour and eschatological phrasing. He published 14 novels in the course of his career, apart from poems, travelogues, scripts, plays and articles. He was known to have a huge fan following in Spain and Latin America. Camilo José Cela is among the principal authors that are studied in literature schools in Spain and his works are considered as classics.

Quick Facts

Spanish Celebrities Born In May

Also Known As: Camilo José Cela y Trulock, 1st Marquis of Iria Flavia

Died At Age: 85


Spouse/Ex-: María del Rosario Conde Picavea, Marina Castaño

father: Camilo Crisanto Cela y Fernández

mother: Camila Emanuela Trulock y Bertorini

children: Camilo José Cela Conde

Born Country: Spain

Nobel Laureates In Literature Poets

Died on: January 17, 2002

place of death: Madrid, Spain

Cause of Death: Heart Disease

Ancestry: English Spanish, Italian Spanish

More Facts

education: Complutense University Of Madrid

awards: 1989 - Nobel Prize in Literature
1996 - Miguel de Cervantes Prize
1987 - Prince of Asturias Award for Literature

Childhood & Early Life
Camilo José Cela was born on 11 May 1916 at Padrón, Galicia in Spain. His father’s name was Camilo Crisanto Cela y Fernánde and mother’s name was Camila Emanuela Trulock y Bertorini.
Between 1921 and 1925, Camilo José Cela lived in Viga after which his family moved to Madrid. Here, he was enrolled in the Piarist School.
In 1931, he was diagnosed with tuberculosis and had to spend the next year in a sanatorium at Guadarrama. While at the sanatorium, he spent his time reading and, subsequently, began work on his novel titled ‘Pabellón de reposo’.
He enrolled into the Medicine Faculty of the Universidad Complutense de Madrid, in 1934, but soon dropped out and began attending classes at the Arts department of the same university.
At the university, he was tutored by Spanish poet Pedro Salinas with whom he shared his first poems and works. Pedro Salinas was known to have influenced him greatly to pursue a career in writing.
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In 1936, with the onset of the Spanish Civil War, Camilo José Cela enlisted as a soldier and served for Francisco Franco's army. He was wounded in the war and had to be hospitalized in Logroño.
The Civil War ended in 1939. During this period, he completed his work on a collection of poems titled ‘Pisando la dudosa luz del dia’; the poems were published in 1945.
After the end of the war, Camilo José Cela went on to pursue studies in Law for a while. It was during this phase that he commenced work on his debut novel, ‘La familia de Pascual Duarte’, a story set in rural Extremadura. The novel was written in a unique style of narration termed as ‘tremendismo’; a style that highlights violence. The novel was published in 1942 and became a huge success.
After the publication of the novel Camilo José Cela had to face issues from the Church as the content of his novel was considered rough and therefore the second volume of his novel was put through censorship.
The second installment was released in Buenos Aires, and with the success of this book he discontinued his studies at the Law School in order to pursue a career in writing.
Between 1944 and 1948, Camilo José Cela organized multiple painting exhibitions for his works. He also published his works named ‘El cancionero de La Alcarria’ and ‘Viaje a la Alcarria’.
In 1951 he completed work on his book ‘La Colmena’, that describes the brutality of life in Spain in the 1930s .This work regarded as his masterpiece, was banned from being published in Spain due to censorship issues and was published in Buenos Aires.
Camilo José Cela had made a deal with Venezuelan leader Marcos Pérez Jiménez that he would write a series of five books under the title ‘Historias de Venezuela’, detailing the autrocracy in the region. However, upon the completion of the first book ‘La Catira’, he was asked to discontinue from the project owing to its potential to have a negative effect among rational groups and cultural circles.
Camilo José Cela was fond of travelling only around Spain and expressed his disinterest in exploring other parts of the world. His travelogue books ‘Viaje a la Alcarria’ (1948) and ‘Del Miño al Bidasoa’ (1952) unveil the author’s inclination towards travel and food in Spain.
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Other well-known works of the author include experimental novels like ‘San Camilo, 1936’ published in 1969, ‘Cristo versus Arizona’ (1988), the Galician trilogy—‘Mazurca para dos muertos’ (1983), ‘La cruz de San Andrés’ (1994), and ‘Madera de boj’ (1999).
In 1957, Camilo José Cela was assigned a seat as the member of the Royal Spanish Academy. He was appointed Royal Senator in the Constituent Cortes and this gave him the power to influence the phrasing of the Spanish Constitution of 1978.
His novel ‘‘La Colmena’ was adapted into a feature film in 1982 under the direction of Spanish Scriptwriter and director Mario Camus. Camilo José Cela contributed to the film as a scriptwriter and actor.
Major Works
Camilo José Cela was a renowned author known for his innovation and style of writing. His best known works include his novel’ La colmena’ (1951) and ‘San Camilo, 1936’ (1969). Some critics also credit him for the birth of the narrative style of writing termed as ‘tremendismo’.
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Awards & Achievements
Camilo José Cela was the recipient of the Prince of Asturias Award in Literature in 1987.
In 1989, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature "for a rich and intensive prose, which with restrained compassion forms a challenging vision of man's vulnerability".
Camilo José Cela was presented with the Premio Planeta de Novela in 1994.
Camilo José Cela won the Miguel de Cervantes Prize in the year 1995.
Personal Life & Legacy
In 1944, Camilo José Cela married María del Rosario Conde Picavea and the couple had a son named Camilo José Cela Conde. However, the relationship ended in a divorce in 1990.
In 1991, he married Marina Concepción Castaño López.
He died from heart disease on 17 January 2002, in Madrid, at the age of 85.
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