November 25, 2017
Lope de Vega's 455th Birthday
“Con algunas flores en mi jardín, media docena de fotos y algunos libros; vivo sin envidia.”
(“With a few flowers in my garden, half a dozen pictures and some books, I live without envy.”)
Born in Madrid in 1562, prolific dramatist Lope de Vega’s talent was noticed while he was a student by the bishop of Ávila, who attempted but ultimately failed to convince him to join the priesthood. A romance prompted de Vega to abandon this religious path, and he continued to educate himself with anthological readings while establishing a career as a writer in Madrid.
De Vega’s love life, which often inspired his plays and poetry, was defined by intense passion and marked with fierce ups and downs — including one that landed him in exile. During this time, he spent several years in Valencia focusing on further honing his craft and establishing a reputation as a talented playwright and poet. Service to dukes, romances and marriages, and a handful of heartbreaking deaths characterized the bulk of the playwright’s life during his most productive period. Today, some 3,000 sonnets, 3 novels, 4 novellas, 9 epic poems, and 500 plays are attributed to him.
Despite the chaos that surrounded him, de Vega remained a prolific and significant writer, majorly influencing the art and direction of Spanish theatre and poetry. Today, we celebrate the vast contributions of the Fénix de los Ingenios (Pheonix of Spanish Wits) on what would be his 455th birthday.