Ana María Matute

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Ana María Matute

Ana María Matute Ausejo (26 July 1925 – 25 June 2014) was an internationally acclaimed Spanish writer and member of the Real Academia Española.[1][2] The third woman to receive the Cervantes Prize for her literary oeuvre, she is considered one of the foremost novelists of the posguerra, the period immediately following the Spanish Civil War.


Matute was born on 26 July 1925.[3] At the age of four she almost died from a chronic kidney infection, and was taken to live with her grandparents in Mansilla de la Sierra, a small town in the mountains, for a period of recovery. Matute says that she was profoundly influenced by the villagers whom she met during her time there. This influence can be seen in such works as those published in her 1961 collection Historias de la Artámila ("Stories from Artámila"), all of which deal with the people that Matute met during her recovery. Settings reminiscent of that town are also often used as settings for her other work.[4]

Matute was ten years old when the Spanish Civil War broke out in 1936, and this conflict is said to have had the greatest impact on Matute's writing. She considered not only "the battles between the two factions, but also the internal aggression within each one".[5] The war resulted in Francisco Franco's rise to power, starting in 1936 and escalating until 1939, when he took control of the entire country. Franco established a dictatorship which lasted thirty-six years, until his death in 1975. The violence brought on by the war continued through much of his reign. Since Matute matured as a writer in this posguerra period under Franco's oppressive regime, some of the most recurrent themes in her works are violence, alienation, misery, and especially the loss of innocence.[4][5] Her work was sometimes censored by the Franco regime, and at least once she was fined because of her writings.[6]

She published her first story, "The Boy Next Door," when she was only 17 years old.[6] Matute was known for her sympathetic treatment of the lives of children and adolescents, their feelings of betrayal and isolation, and their rites of passage. She often interjected such elements as myth, fairy tale, the supernatural, and fantasy into her works.[7] She was outspoken about subjects such as the benefits of emotional suffering, the constant changing of a human being, and how innocence is never completely lost.[8]

Matute was a university professor. She studied at the international school of Hilversum in the Netherlands, and traveled to various countries as a lecturer or guest instructor. Her academic work in the United States spanned four decades, beginning as early as 1966 when she spoke at Our Lady of Cincinnati College.[9] She lectured at the Tatem Arts Center of Hood College in Maryland on April 28, 1969.[9] In 1978, she was a visiting professor at the University of Virginia.[10] She was invited to speak at Brigham Young University in Utah[11] on March 12, 1990, where she gave a lecture on "Working the Craft of Translation" in Spanish.[12] She was also a guest lecturer at the universities of Oklahoma, Indiana and Virginia.

She was an honorary member of the Hispanic Society of America[13] and a member of the American Association of Teachers of Spanish and Portuguese. She won the Spanish literary award, the Premio Nadal, in 1958 for the first novel of the trilogy, Los Mercaderes.[6] Her other literary prizes included the Planeta Prize and the Café Gijón Prize.[14]

On 25 June 2014, Matute died of a heart attack at the age of 88.[15][16]


Matute's bibliography includes:[17]

  • En esta tierra
  • Los Abel
  • El arrepentido y otras narraciones
  • Pequeño teatro
  • Los hijos muertos
  • Fiesta al noroeste (Translated into English as Celebration in the Northwest)
  • Historias de la Artámila
  • Don Payasito
  • Algunos muchachos
  • The semiautobiographical trilogy Los mercaderes:
    • Primera memoria (Translated as School of the Sun)
    • La trampa (Translated as The Trap)
    • Los soldados lloran de noche (Translated as Soldiers Cry By Night)
  • Luciérnagas (Translated as Fireflies)
  • Olvidado rey Gudú
  • Aranmanoth (novel, 2000)
  • El árbol de oro
  • Los Chicos
  • Rafael
  • El ausente
  • Bernardino
  • La Conciencia
  • El Salvamento
  • Navidad para Carnavalito
  • La Rama Seca
  • Paraíso habitado
  • El Polizón Del Ulises (novel,1965) (Premio Lazarillo)
  • Demonios familiares
  • The Heliotrope Wall and Other Stories


  1. ^ Fiona Ortiz (25 June 2014). "Novelist Ana Maria Matute dies at 88". Washington Post. Reuters. Retrieved 26 June 2014. 
  2. ^ "Ana Maria Matute, Spanish novelist, dies aged 88". BBC. 25 June 2014. Retrieved 26 June 2014. 
  3. ^ "Estoy cansada de repetirlo: tengo 85 años, nací en 1925 y no en 1926 como se emperran en decir", El País, 16.11.2010.
  4. ^ a b Virgillo, Carmelo; L. Teresa Valdivieso; Edward H. Friedman (2004). Aproximaciones al estudio de la literatura hispanica. McGraw Hill. ISBN 0-07-255846-6. 
  5. ^ a b Ballesteros, Jose; Mark Harpring; Francisca Paredes Mendezson Heinle (2005). Voces de España: AntologÃa Literaria. ISBN 0-7593-9666-3. 
  6. ^ a b c William Yardley (27 July 2014). "Ana Maria Matute, Novelist, Dies at 88". New York Times. Retrieved 4 July 2014. 
  7. ^ "Ana Maria Matute (Spanish author) – Encyclopedia Britannica". 26 July 1925. Retrieved 27 June 2014. 
  8. ^ "Members of RAE". Real Academia Espanola. Retrieved 16 April 2013. 
  9. ^ a b "News in Brief". The Morning Herald. Hagerstown, Maryland. 21 April 1969. p. 15 – via 
  10. ^ "Visiting Professors (1979-present) | Spanish, Italian & Portuguese". University of Virginia. 20 August 2015. Retrieved 2017-02-11. 
  11. ^ "AWARD-WINNING SPANISH NOVELIST WILL TALK AT BYU". 1990-03-09. Retrieved 2017-02-11. 
  12. ^ Michael Scott Doyle (1993). "Translating Matute's Algunos Muchachos: Applied Critical Reading and Forms of Fidelity in The Heliotrope Wall and Other Stories." Translation Review. Schulte, Rainer and Dennis Kratz, eds. ISSN 0737-4836. p. 30.
  13. ^ "Ana María Matute discusses her Life and 'Worlds of Fiction' – UAB Barcelona". 19 October 2011. Retrieved 27 June 2014. 
  14. ^ Barcelona, Universitat Autonoma de. "Ana María Matute discusses her Life and 'Worlds of Fiction' - UAB Barcelona". Retrieved 2017-02-11. 
  15. ^ Sergi Doria (25 June 2014). "Muere la escritora Ana María Matute". ABC. 
  16. ^ Ana Maria Matute: Author who suffered under Franco and was acclaimed for her lyrical depictions of Spanish life in the Civil War
  17. ^ "Cronología de obras de Ana María Matute – Departamento de Bibliotecas y Documentación del IC". 16 April 2014. Retrieved 27 June 2014. 

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