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Lee in A Moment of War. SUR
Laurie Lee: Evacuated from Almuñécar in 1936
Foreign influencers in southern Spain

Laurie Lee: Evacuated from Almuñécar in 1936

In Almuñécar, the author witnessed the mounting tensions that would eventually lead to the Spanish Civil War and was evacuated by a Navy destroyer that had been sent to pick up any Brits along the coast

Jennie Rhodes

Almuñécar

Friday, 14 June 2024, 12:15

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A fairly nondescript monument with a plaque is the only reminder in Almuñécar of the visits made there by British author Laurie Lee, two of which are documented in his books As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning and A Rose For Winter.

The monument is somewhat hidden on Paseo del Altillo, near to the site of the hotel where he worked as a handyman and musician during his first stay from 1935 to 1936.

The plaque that marked the centenary of Lee’s birth in 2014. SUR

The plaque marks the centenary of the author's birth on 26 June 2014 and recalls his time "before the Civil War" when he lived "in a small fishing village" which in his second book he refers to as El Castillo. Interestingly however, in the first book he refers to the place by its real name.

The author had already spent several months in Andalucía before reaching Almuñécar and in As I Walked Out... he recounts his travels through Cadiz, Seville and Malaga before deciding to "hole up" in Almuñécar for the winter of 1935 to 1936.

In Malaga the violin he'd travelled with from his home in Slad, Gloucestershire, "suddenly broke in my hands" due to, he believed, "overexposure to the sun". As luck would have it though, he was given another by a German whose "girlfriend had run off with a Swede" and had no use for it.

In Almuñécar, Lee witnessed the mounting tensions that would eventually lead to the Civil War and was evacuated by a British Navy destroyer that had been sent to pick up any Brits along the coast. "I knew I would have to go," Lee writes in his memoir.

He returned with his wife Kati in the early 1950s, retracing his steps in a three-month trip through Andalucía, spending time in Almuñécar, which is the inspiration for his third autobiographical work set in Spain (the second being A Moment of War, in which he returns to fight with the International Brigade, but doesn't come to Andalucía). In the book he describes feeling "restless and haunted" upon his arrival in the town, finding it "a little more ignoble, more ground to dust" and hearing of the fate of the many friends he'd made before the war.

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