Federico García Lorca was the most important and influential Spanish poet and playwright of the 20th century. He was also a writer of prose, a musician and an artist. He died tragically at the age of 38, shot dead at the outbreak of the Spanish civil war. He is believed to lie in a mass grave on the outskirts of Granada, but despite recent investigations, his body has not yet been recovered.
Federico was born into a wealthy and well-connected family in Granada. His mother was a school teacher who encouraged her son’s literary development. In 1914 he enrolled in Granada University to study Philosophy, Literature and Law. His first publication was an anthology of prose pieces on various political and cultural topics, published in 1918.
In 1919 he moved to Madrid where he found himself at the heart of an intellectual movement frequented by people of the caliber of Albert Einstein, John Maynard Keyes and Madame Curie. He also built strong links with Spanish intellectuals such as the film producer Luis Bruñuel, the poet Rafael Alberti and the artist Salvador Dalí.
In 1921 he returned to Granada and worked on various artistic productions with the composer Manuel de Falla. In 1929 he travelled to New York where he spend one year, followed by a period in Havana, Cuba, both of which had a strong influence on his intellectual and artistic development.
His return to Spain in 1931 coincided with the start of the Second Republic and Lorca became involved in a theatre group called “La Barraca” whose aim was to bring theatre productions to the towns and villages of Spain. In 1933 his plays became very popular in Buenos Aires and he spent some months there enjoying artistic and economic success. On his return to Spain he worked intensely, completing some of his most famous plays, organizing theatre groups, travelling, performing and giving recitals and conferences.
In the build up to the Civil War in 1936, he was offered asylum by Colombia and Mexico but he rejected these offers and continued to stay with his family in Granada. He never aligned himself politically and had a wide circle of friends of all political persuasions, including the Falange party leader José Antonio Primo de Rivera, who was a lover of poetry. When asked about his political beliefs he said: “I feel catholic, communist, anarchist, libertarian, traditionalist and monarchist”. He believed in human beings and friendship and did not appear to take any threat to his life seriously.
After being arrested and spending one night in an improvised jail, he was shot by the nationalist faction on 16th August 1936 along with other political prisoners, accused of being a Russian spy, having worked as a secretary to a socialist leader and for being a homosexual.