Miguel de Cervantes was a Spanish writer best known for his work Don Quixote, which is considered one of the high points of world literature. He is regarded as one of the greatest novelists of all time and the greatest writer to ever write in the Spanish language. His works have influenced other works of art like music and paintings.
Federico García Lorca was a Spanish poet, playwright, and theater director. He was a prominent member of the Generation of '27, a group of poets who essentially worked with avant-garde forms of art and poetry. He was homosexual and had a love affair with sculptor Emilio Aladrén. He mysteriously disappeared at the beginning of the Spanish Civil War.
Miguel de Unamuno was a Spanish essayist, poet, playwright, novelist, and philosopher. His most famous novel was Abel Sánchez: The History of a Passion, a modern retelling of the Biblical Cain and Abel story. He was a significant figure in the Spanish literary and intellectual circles and served as rector of the University of Salamanca.
Spanish Baroque dramatist Lope de Vega was one of the most significant figures of the Spanish Golden Age. He had initially aspired to be a priest but abandoned his plans after falling in love with a married woman. He is best remembered for works such as The Dog in the Manger.
A leading member of the Spanish literary movement known as the Generation of '98, Antonio Machado was a legendary poet and playwright. He was educated at the Sorbonne and had also taught French. A proponent of eternal poetry, he penned masterpieces such as Soledades and Campos de Castilla.
A prominent figure of the Hebrew school of poetry and a Neoplatonic philosopher, Solomon ibn Gabirol lived during the Jewish Golden Age of Spain. His works include elegies, religious and secular poems, proverbs, and philosophical treatises. Legends claim that he was either murdered by another poet or by a horseman.
One of George Santayana’s initial works, The Sense of Beauty, spoke about aesthetics, an oft-repeated topic in his later works. The Spanish-born American philosopher and Harvard professor is remembered for his quote “Only the dead have seen the end of war,” which has often been misattributed to Plato.
Spanish Romantic poet Gustavo Adolfo Bécquer was orphaned at age 11. Inspired by his painter brother Valeriano, he embarked on a literary career, writing for El Contemporáneo in Madrid. His Rimas (Rhymes) and Leyendas (Legends) gained popularity only after his death at 34 due to tuberculosis.
Joaquín Sabina had begun writing lyrics at age 14. The legendary Spanish singer and songwriter mostly sings on heartbreak and love. Apart from releasing triple-platinum tracks such as Vinagre y Rosas, he has also penned books on poetry. He once went on a 4-year hiatus after a stroke.
Nobel Prize-winning Spanish poet Juan Ramón Jiménez mostly dealt with erotic themes in his works. He was also once hospitalized for depression. A master of lyrical poetry, he later deviated to free verse. He is best known for poetic masterpieces such as Distant Gardens and his prose Platero and I.
13 Judah Halevi
Spanish Jewish poet, physician, and philosopher Judah Halevi is remembered for his significant contributions to the development of Hebrew poetry. Best known for Sefer ha-Kuzari and his poems in Dīwān, he was greatly influenced by Arabian literature. His travels eventually took him to Egypt, where he died.
Alfonso X had served as the king of Castile and Leon in the 13th century. A patron of scholars, he readily participated in editing and writing their treatises. Apart from encouraging law and science, he also penned Galician poetry and established the Siete partidas law code, inspired by Roman law.
Spanish Baroque poet Luis de Góngora created his own style known as Gongorismo. Born to a judge, he initially used his father’s library to gain knowledge. His works such as Fábula de Polifemo y Galatea and Soledades were criticized by many for their complex style and obscurity.
Miguel Hernández was a 20th-century Spanish-language poet and playwright. He was associated with the Generation of '27 and the Generation of '36 movements. He had a difficult childhood and was mostly self-taught. He became a prominent literary figure at a young age. His poems are counted among the finest pieces of Spanish poetry of the 20th century.
18 Ibn Jubayr
Ibn Jubayr was an Arab geographer, traveler, and poet from al-Andalus. In the years preceding the Third Crusade, he made a famous pilgrimage to Mecca from 1183 to 1185, which he wrote about in great detail in his chronicles. He was a member of an Arab family of the Kinanah tribe and also traveled to Damascus, Mosul, Acre, and Baghdad.
Rafael Alberti, part of the Spanish poets’ group called the Generation of 1927, redefined Spanish literature. The Cervantes Prize-winning poet had also been a Communist Party member but was expelled later and launched the politically motivated magazine Octubre. He had also fought in the Spanish Civil War.
Legendary Galician poet Rosalía de Castro was a significant figure of the Galician Romantic movement and mostly wrote on themes such as nostalgia and melancholy. She had also written quite a few novels but remains best known for her poetry collections such as Cantares Gallegos and Follas novas.
Considered the most politically influential Jew in Muslim Spain, Samuel ibn Naghrillah was also an eminent Talmudic scholar, poet, grammarian, philologist and soldier. Beginning his life as a merchant in Córdoba, he later moved to Granada, where his linguistic and calligraphic skills caught the attention of the vizier; he was appointed first as assistant vizier and on latter on as the vizier.
Remembered as the "Spanish Lord Byron," Romantic poet José de Espronceda y Delgado became famous for his affair with Teresa Mancha. Initially imprisoned in a monastery for his revolutionary activities, he fled Spain and later lived in England and France. El estudiante de Salamanca remains one of his notable works.
Spanish Arab philosopher and scholar Avempace excelled in a variety of subjects, such as astronomy, music, medicine, and poetry. His treatise on botany Kitāb an-Nabāt described how plant sexes differ. His other works include Tadbīr al-mutawaḥḥid. He was believed to be an atheist by many.
Vicente Aleixandre was a Spanish poet. He was part of the Generation of '27 and received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1977. His early poetry was marked by surrealism and many of his poems have melancholic undertones. He is considered one of the greatest poets of Spanish literature. He was bisexual but never admitted to it publicly.
Renowned Spanish author and poet Manuel Vázquez Montalbán was a regular columnist for El Pais. A gastronome, he displayed his knowledge of cooking in the Detective Pepe Carvalho series and in Contra los Gourmets. He was a football lover, too, and often wrote essays on topics such as sports and music.
A nationalist poet and playwright, José Zorrilla was a major figure of the Spanish Romantic movement. Though he initially studied law, he later switched to literature. He is remembered for his verse legend collection Cantos del trovador and his iconic play Don Juan Tenorio.
29 Luis Cernuda
Spanish poet and critic Luis Cernuda was a qualified lawyer and later became a significant member of the Generation of '27. After gaining prominence with poem collections such as Los placeres prohibidos, he also taught at universities in Britain and the U.S., and eventually settled in Mexico. He was openly homosexual.
Juan del Encina is largely regarded as one of the pioneers of Spanish drama. He had been the court poet/dramatist for the Duke of Alba. Some of his best-known works were compiled in Cancionero. His églogas often dealt with mythological themes that were previously found in the Italian works.
31 Juan Ruiz
Fourteenth-century Castilian poet Juan Ruiz was also known as the Archpriest of Hita. He is remembered for crafting what later became the most significant long poem in Spanish literature, The Book of Good Love, written mostly in the cuaderna vía form. He is also termed by many as the Castilian Chaucer.
Spanish Catalan novelist Mercè Rodoreda is best remembered for her novel The Time of the Doves. While she had initially begun writing to escape her unhappy marriage, she took it up as a serious career while in exile in France and Switzerland after the Spanish Civil War.
The Spanish avant-garde author Ramón Gómez de la Serna is best remembered for his greguerías, or short poems. Though he had studied law, he never practiced and ventured into literature instead. He also launched his own literary magazine, Prometeo, and penned numerous articles, novels, and plays.
Alonso de Ercilla had penned the most popular Castilian Renaissance epic poem ever, La Araucana. He claimed to have fought as a soldier in Chile, against the Araucanians, where he is said to have begun writing his epic. The poem also showed his skills in the complex octava real stanza.
Spanish botanist José Celestino Mutis had initially studied medicine and served as the royal physician of Ferdinand VI. While working in South America later, he studied the medicinal properties of plants. He also built a massive botanical garden and penned a treatise that contained over 6,000 illustrations of plants.
Neoclassical poet and dramatist Leandro Fernández de Moratín, the son of poet and playwright Nicolás Fernández de Moratín, was one of the most significant figures of the Spanish Enlightenment. He was best known for his works such as The New Comedy and The Maiden’s Consent and mostly lived in France.
Spanish lyric poet Jorge Guillén was known for using a variety of meters and verbs. The son of a newspaper publisher, Guillén initially taught Spanish at the universities of Paris, Seville, and Oxford. Part of the Generation of '27, he is best remembered for his poetry collection Cántico.
Moses ibn Ezra, or Abū Hārūn Mūsā, was one of the best Spanish Jewish poets and a pioneer of secular verse. He had fallen in love with his niece, but she had been married off to someone else, inspiring him to write poetry which spoke of love and old age.
Theodulf of Orléans had been the bishop of Orléans during the reign of Charlemagne and had later become his chief theological advisor. His iconic works, such as Ad Carolum regem, were inspired by Charlemagne. A prominent figure of the Carolingian Renaissance, he also built many churches.
Five-time Nobel Prize in Literature-nominated Spanish historian and literary critic Marcelino Menéndez y Pelayo was also a professor of Spanish literature. He also owned a library of around 45,000 books. Interestingly, a law was passed just to let him become a professor at the tender age of 22.
43 Ausiàs March
44 José Cadalso
José Cadalso was a colonel of the Royal Spanish Army in the 18th century. He was also a well-known author, playwright, poet, and essayist. As an army man, he traveled through Italy, Germany, England, France, and Portugal and studied the literature of these countries. He is credited to have made massive contributions to Spanish Enlightenment literature.
Spanish Jewish rabbi, translator, and poet Yehuda Alharizi was one of the greatest scholars of 13th-century Spain. Fluent in multiple languages, such as French, Greek, and Latin, he also traveled widely across the world. His works include Tahkemoni and translations of Arabic works such as Guide to the Perplexed into Hebrew.
An influential Jesuit missionary in the Portuguese colony of Brazil, José de Anchieta worked with the indigenous population, converting many of them into Catholic faith. He also wrote Arte de grammtica da lingoa mais usada na costa do Brasil, providing orthography to the local Tupi language and is known to co-found the cities of São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro.