martes, 15 de octubre de 2013

Gerald Brenan dies on January 19, 1987, in Alhaurín el Grande

Gerald Brenan  (7 April 1894 – 19 January 1987) was a British writer and Hispanist who spent much of his life in Spain. He was born in Malta, while his father was in the British Army. He went to Radley College. At the age of 18, his father wanted him to train at Sandhurst (Royal Military Academy), but he set off with his older friend, John Hope-Johnstone, to walk to China. Although they failed and had to return after travelling through Europe.

He joined the British Army and served in France throughout the World War I in 1914. After the war he met  the Bloomsbury Circle of Intellectuals. In 1919 he moved to Spain and rented a house in the small village of Yegen, La Alpujarra,  province of Granada. He spent his time catching up on the education he felt he had missed by not attending university. Despite the remoteness of his new home, his contacts with his friends continued, particularly with Ralph Partridge and his first wife Dora Carrington. In the late 1920s he had an affair with his maid, Juliana Martin Pelegrina, the mother of his daughter, Miranda Helen. In Dorset in 1930, he met the American poet and novelist Gamel Woolsey (1895–1968); and then they bought a house to live together in Churriana, Málaga, in 1934, though they had to go back to England because of the  outbreak of the Spanish Civil War. His book The Spanish Labyrinth is a historical work on the background of the Spanish Civil War.

But in 1950 he returned and wrote a travel book: The Face of Spain, where, in his sixth chapter, he reveals his research on the murder of the poet Federico García Lorca. In 1951 he published The Literature of the Spanish People. Brenan was permitted to stay in Spain in 1953 despite holding critical views of Franco’s regime. He wrote South from Granada (1957) in Churriana, one of his most famous stories. In 1962, A Life of One’s Own (autobiography) came out and The Lighthouse Always Says Yes (novel) in 1966.

On January 18, 1968, his wife died. Brenan had met a young woman, Lynda Nicholson-Price. So, the author felt that she was the ideal person to continue with his work. He took her as his pupil. Lynda (twenty-five) was impressed by the experienced author (seventy-four). She said that she loved the way Brenan talked about books and writers: "I loved him, but I loved him as one loves a great-uncle." They went to live to Alhaurín el Grande, province of Málaga. For that reason, a house with garden was built for them in the middle of nature: "La Cañada de las Palomas". Here, in 1973, he finished his desired biography of Saint John of the Cross  and the following year his second autobiographical book, Personal Record (1920-1972). In 1977 he published: The best moments. Poems and, in 1978, Thoughts in a Dry Season, a book of aphorisms.

In 1982, he was paid a popular tribute in Yegen (Granada) and honoured  by the British Consul  with the Order of the British Empire (Knight British Empire). In 1984, he was sent to a residential home because of his weak health in Pinner, a suburb in London. His friends and followers in Spain launched a campaign to have him brought back. Brenan returned to Alhaurín el Grande and on June 1, 1984,  Gerald Brenan Foundation was created. The mission was to take care of the writer, preserve his library and disseminate his work. Thus, Brenan donated his archives, books, works, manuscripts, files, photographs,  and, in general, all kinds of documents related to his status as a writer, he also donated all his copyrights.

                                                        Gerald Brenan Foundation (Library) 

On January 19, 1987, he died at 92. He bequeathed his body to the School of Medicine (University of Málaga) for medical research. Several cells of the writer's nervous system were preserved to study the cause of his longevity. On January 20, 2001, his body was cremated and buried next to his wife in the English Cemetery of Málaga. 

Bibliographical sources

Brenan, G. (1962).  A Life of One’s Own. London: Jonathan Cape.
Brenan, G. (1974).  Personal Record 1920-1972. London: Jonathan Cape.
Gathorne-Hardy, J. (1992). The Interior Castle. A life of Gerald Brenan. London: Sinclair-Stevenson.

1 comentario:

  1. To learn more about Brenan´s life, I recommend his autobiographical works, they do not mean strictly true, they are his personal views and opinion of the situations that shaped his life and made ​​him what he always wanted to be "an immortal writer ."