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26 July 1875: The birth of celebrated poet Antonio Machado

An early 20th-century portrait of Antonio Machado Ruiz.
An early 20th-century portrait of Antonio Machado Ruiz. / SUR
  • Machado came into contact with numerous contemporary literary figures in Paris, including Oscar Wilde and Rubén Dario

Antonio Machado Ruiz was a Spanish poet and one of the leading figures of the literary movement known as the Generation of '98. Son of the celebrated Spanish folklorist Demófilo, Machado was born in Seville on 26 July 1875, one year after his brother Manuel - also a poet and prominent member of the Generation of '98.

Machado, described as someone who 'spoke in verse and lived in poetry', was born in the Palacio de las Dueñas, the former residence of the Duchess of Alba, and his works include several references to the years he spent at the luxurious abode as a child. In the gardens of this 15th-century Renaissance palace is a plaque next to a lemon tree that commemorates El Limonero, one of Machado's most famous works.

His family moved to Madrid in 1883 where he enrolled in the Institución Libre de Enseñanza and it was here that Machado discovered his passion for literature. After completing his Bachelor's degree in Madrid, Machado and his brother headed to Paris, where they were employed as translators for a French magazine.

Machado's decision to dedicate himself to poetry came during his time in France. In Paris, he came into contact with numerous renowned poets and contemporary literary figures, like Oscar Wilde and Nicaraguan poet Rubén Dario.

Machado had his first works published in the literary journal Electra in 1901, and his first book of poetry (Soledades) followed two years later.

In 1907, Machado accepted the position of Professor of French at a school in Soria(Castilla y León) and it was here that he met Leonor Izquierdo, whom he married in 1909. The couple set up home in Paris, where Machado studied Philosophy, but Leonor was diagnosed with advanced tuberculosis and so the couple returned to Soria, where she died in 1912.

Machado was devastated and left Soria and went to live in Baeza, where he wrote a collection of poetry that focused on the death of his wife. These were published in 1916 in a re-edition of Campos de Castilla, a book of poetry that was first published a few weeks after she had died.

Machado worked at the Instituto de Segovia between 1919 and 1931 in order to be nearer to his brother Manuel, who was living in Madrid. The brothers worked together on several plays that were to receive great acclaim from audiences in the capital.

The outbreak of the Spanish Civil War in July 1936 was to separate the Machado brothers forever. Manuel remained in the Nationalist zone, but Antonio left Madrid with his elderly mother and went to Barcelona, but as the Nationalist troops advanced on the last Republican strongholds, they crossed the border into Collioure.

Machado died in Collioure on 22 February 1939: his mother died three days later.