Birthday: March 6, 1927
Died At Age: 87
Sun Sign: Pisces
Also Known As: Gabriel José de la Concordia García Márquez
Born in: Aracataca, Colombia
Famous as: Nobel Prize Winner in Literature
Spouse/Ex-: Mercedes Barcha;
father: Gabriel Eligio García
mother: Luisa Santiaga Márquez
children: Gonzalo, Rodrigo
Died on: April 17, 2014
place of death: Mexico City, Mexico
City: Colombia, Colombia
education: University of Cartagena, National University of Colombia
awards: 1982 - Nobel Prize in Literature
1972 - Rómulo Gallegos Prize
- Common Wealth Award of Distinguished Service
1972 - Neustadt International Prize for Literature
- New York Times 10 Best Books of the Year
Gabriel Garcia Marquez was a Colombian novelist counted among the greatest writers of the 20th century. Known affectionately as Gabo throughout Latin America, he was much beloved to his fans who loved his literary style of effortlessly blending magical, supernatural elements with the natural and normal surroundings, a style known as “Magic Realism” which he helped popularize. His skill as a writer lay in the fact that his works not only appealed to the common readers, but also received much critical acclaim and praise from literary critics. An outspoken critic of Colombian and foreign politics, his initial career interest was in becoming a lawyer in accordance to his parents’ wish. However, while studying law he decided that he wanted to be a journalist and thus embarked on a journalistic career. While working as a correspondent in Paris, he read a great deal of American literature and its French translations, and this laid the foundation for his future literary career. Even though best known for his mastery over magic realism, he was also equally skilled at writing works of non-fiction, as his initial writings were heavily imbued with realistic themes. He received several international awards for his invaluable contribution to literature including the 1972 Neustadt International Prize for Literature and the 1982 Nobel Prize in Literature.
Childhood & Early Life
Gabriel Garcia Marquez was born on 6 March 1927 in Aracataca, Colombia to Gabriel Eligio García and Luisa Santiaga Márquez Iguarán. His father was a medical school dropout who later became a pharmacist. His mother was the daughter of Colonel Nicolás Ricardo Márquez Mejía. Gabriel had 11 younger siblings.
He was raised by his maternal grandparents until he was eight. His grandmother, Doña Tranquilina Iguarán was an avid storyteller who regaled the young boy with folklores and tales about dead ancestors, ghosts, omens and premonitions. She also told him of his grandfather’s adventures as an army man who had fought in at least two Colombian civil conflicts.
He was sent to a boarding school where he developed into a studious student. He loved to draw comics though he was not much into athletics.
He earned a scholarship to study at the Jesuit Liceo Nacional secondary school when he was 14, and graduated in 1946.
He was interested in pursuing a career in journalism though he chose to study law at the National University of Colombia in Bogotá at the insistence of his parents.
He also started writing during this time and one of his short stories was published in the literary supplement of ‘El Espectador’ in 1947. During the late 1940s the National University was closed down due to political unrest in the country and Marquez relocated to the University of Cartagena. However, he detested legal studies and never completed his degree.
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He relocated to Barranquilla in 1950 and wrote columns for a daily paper, ‘El Heraldo’. During this time, he read a lot of literature by prominent writers like Virginia Woolf, Sophocles, William Faulkner, Franz Kafka, James Joyce and Ernest Hemingway, which greatly influenced his literary style.
His first novella ‘Leaf Storm’ was published in 1955; it had taken him years to find a publisher for this work. The novella takes place in Macondo, a fictional town which would reappear in many of Marquez’s future works.
His 1961 novella ‘No One Writes to the Colonel’ is the story of an impoverished, retired colonel, a veteran of the Thousand Days' War. The very next year he published the novel ‘In Evil Hour’ which takes place in a nameless Colombian village. Marquez wrote this novel while living in Paris.
The novel ‘One Hundred Years of Solitude’, released in 1967 went on to become one of his best known literary works. It tells of the multi-generational story of the Buendía family, whose patriarch, José Arcadio Buendía, founds the town of Macondo. The widely acclaimed book is considered by many to be the author's masterpiece.
He began the 1970s with the non-fiction work, ‘The Story of a Shipwrecked Sailor’, the stories about a shipwrecked sailor who nearly died on account of negligence by the Colombian Navy.
One of his most famous books, ‘Love in the Time of Cholera’ was published in 1985. Some critics labeled the story as a sentimental story about the enduring power of true love. He drew inspiration for this novel from the love story of his own parents who had struggled to get married in the face of familial opposition.
Some of his other famous works are ‘The General in His Labyrinth’ (1989), ‘Of Love and Other Demons’ (1994), ‘News of a Kidnapping’ (1996), ‘Living to Tell the Tale’ (2002), and ‘Memories of My Melancholy Whores’ (2004).
Awards & Achievements
He won the Neustadt International Prize for Literature, one of the most prestigious international literary prizes, in 1972.
He received the Nobel Prize in 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". He was the first Colombian to win a Nobel Prize for Literature
Personal Life & Legacy
He met and fell in love with Mercedes Barcha while she was still a school student. They waited for a few years to get married and finally tied the knot in 1958. The couple had two sons.
Marquez was diagnosed with lymphatic cancer in 1999. After a successful round of treatment the disease went into remission. His brush with death prompted him to write his memoirs.
After having beaten cancer he lived for several more years and eventually died of pneumonia at the age of 87 on 17 April 2014 in Mexico City.