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Miguel de Cervantes (1547–1616)

Death: 23rd April 1616
Location: Convento de las Trinitarias, Madrid, Spain
Photo taken by: DeadGoodBooks

Buy books by Miguel de Cervantes

Spanish writer. Author of Don Quixote de la Mancha, which is considered by many to be the first modern novel and one of the greatest works in Western literature. 
Cervantes was the third child of Rodrigo de Cervantes, a surgeon, in those days an ill-paid profession of low repute. Due to the itinerant life-style of his family little is known of his early life. In 1569 he left Madrid for Rome, the reasons for which are unclear. According to some sources a warrant was issued for his arrest for having dueled and wounded a man. In Rome he joined a Spanish regiment and lost the use of his left hand while fighting in the Battle of Lepanto against the Turks in 1571. The following year he took part in Juan of Austria's campaigns in Navarino, Corfu, and Tunis. In 1575, while returning to Spain, he was captured by Barbary pirates based in Algiers. A ransom of 500 gold ducats was set. He was freed in 1580 when his ransom was paid. 
The experience of 5 years in captivity inspired numerous passages in his work. Upon returning penniless to Spain, he married Catalina de Salazar in 1584 and lived in the town of Esquivias, Toledo. He was a supplier of provisions to the Spanish Armada and a tax collector for a while. He began writing Don Quixote in 1597 while imprisoned in Sevilla for debt. Part I was published in 1605; Part II did not appear until 1615.
The exact location of Cervantes within the Convento de las Trinitarias is unknown as the original church was refurbished at the end of the 17th century and all traces of the author's resting place were lost.
The Spanish language literary award Premio Miguel de Cervantes was named in his honour.

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