Gregorio Martínez Sierra

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Gregorio Martínez Sierra
Gregrorio Martínez Sierra.JPG
Martínez Sierra around 1910
Born (1881-05-06)6 May 1881
Madrid, Spain
Died 1 October 1947(1947-10-01) (aged 66)
Madrid, Spain
Nationality Spanish
Occupation Writer, poet, dramatist, theatre director
This name uses Spanish naming customs: the first or paternal family name is Martínez and the second or maternal family name is Sierra.

Gregorio Martínez Sierra (6 May 1881 – 1 October 1947) was a Spanish writer, poet, dramatist, and theatre director, a key figure in the revival of the Spanish theatrical avant-garde in the early twentieth century.

Work as a poet and playwright[edit]

Martínez Sierra's literary career began at the age of 17 with the publication of El poema del trabajo ('The Poem of Work', 1898), a volume of poetry in the modernist style. His subsequent books of poetry included Diálogos fantásticos ('Fantastic Dialogues', 1899), Flores de escarcha ('Frost Flowers', 1900) and La casa de primavera ('The House of Spring', 1907).

As a playwright, Martínez Sierra was one of the few progressive dramatists whose productions achieved any measure of commercial success at the time of their composition.[citation needed] His major works include La sombra del padre ('Shadow of the Father', 1909), Primavera en otoño ('Spring in Autumn', 1911), Sólo para mujeres ('For Women Only', 1913), Mamá ('Mama', 1913) and El reino de Dios ('The Kingdom of God', 1916). Canción de cuna ('Cradle Song', 1911), which has been called his "masterpiece",[citation needed] was popular across the Spanish-speaking world, and an English-language adaptation transferred to Broadway in 1927. Several of Martínez Sierra's plays were adapted into films, including Canción de cuna (as Cradle Song, dir. Mitchell Leisen, 1933).

The deft handling of female characters in Martínez Sierra's works has been attributed to the collaboration of his wife, the writer María Lejárraga.[1] Since the publication of her memoir Gregorio y yo ('Gregorio and I', 1953), her authorship of many of his plays has been increasingly recognised by scholars.[2]

Work as a publisher and director[edit]

Martínez Sierra's influence was largely as a publisher and director. Through his publishing house, Renacimiento ('Rebirth'), he translated the work of William Shakespeare, Maurice Maeterlinck and Santiago Rusiñol, and introduced the work of European playwrights including George Bernard Shaw and Luigi Pirandello to Spain.

In 1917 he was appointed Director of Madrid's Teatro Eslava and remained there until 1925, transforming the venue into Spain's first Art Theatre.[3] Amongst a series of Spanish and foreign playwrights[4] whose work he produced "in a new, forward-looking style",[5] it was at Martínez Sierra's invitation that Federico García Lorca created and staged, at the Eslava, his first play, El maleficio de la mariposa ('The Curse of the Butterfly'), in 1920.


  1. ^ O'Connor 1966
  2. ^ Martínez Sierra 1953; O'Connor 1977
  3. ^ Martínez Sierra 1926
  4. ^ Playwrights staged at the Eslava during Martínez Sierra's tenure included Shakespeare, Molière, Goldoni, Dumas, Ibsen, Barrie and Bernard Shaw; Anderson 1984, p. 27
  5. ^ Edwards 1985, p. 131


  • Anderson, Reed (1984). Federico García Lorca. London: Macmillan. 
  • Edwards, Gwynne (1985). Dramatists in Perspective: Spanish Theatre in the Twentieth Century. Cardiff: University of Wales Press. 
  • Martínez Sierra, Gregorio (1926). Un teatro de arte en España, 1917–1925. Madrid: Ediciones de la Esfinge. 
  • Martínez Sierra, Gregorio. The kingdom of God. The two shepherds. Wife to a famous man. The romantic lady. Volumen 2 de Plays of G. Martínez Sierra. In English Versions by John Garrett Underhill, with a Critical Appreciation of the Plays by H. Granville Barker . Translations by John Garrett Underhill, Harley Granville-Barker, Helen Granville-Barker, Editor Chatto & Windus, 1923. 
  • Martínez Sierra, María (1953). Gregorio y yo: medio siglo de colaboración. Mexico: Gandesa. 
  • O'Connor, Patricia Walker (1966). Women in the Theater of Gregorio Martínez Sierra. New York, NY: American Press. 
  • O'Connor, Patricia Walker (1977). Gregorio and María Martínez Sierra. Boston, MA: Twayne Publishers.