Spain’s most famous classic writer, Miguel de Cervantes wrote one of the world’s most beloved literary masterpieces, Don Quixote during the early 1600s. Son of the deaf surgeon, Rodrigo de Cervantes, Miguel was born near Madrid, Spain, in 1547. In 1570, Miguel fought for the Spanish army in the Battle of Lepanto, where he was wounded. Because he was captured by the Turks in 1575, de Cervantes spent five years of his life in prison, but the Turks freed him in 1580 to return back to his home country.
Achieving Literary Success
Publishing the first part of Don Quixote in 1605, Miguel achieved the literary success that he had always dreamed of having. In fact, he saw such great success that de Cervantes is perhaps the most successful writer in Spanish literature and any language. His works rival even that of William Shakespeare. On April 23, 1616, de Cervantes died near Madrid, Spain. They buried him on the grounds of a convent in an unmarked grave.
Cervantes’s Early Year
For almost his entire life, Miguel de Cervantes struggled with money, and his father Rodrigo, had been deaf from birth and worked as a surgeon. That might sound like a prestigious job, but at that time, people considered surgeon work a lowly trade. They moved several times when Miguel was a child so that his father could find better prospects for his work. Even as a child, Miguel de Cervantes loved reading, and rumor has it that a relative taught him to read. Many scholars have debated whether Miguel ever received a formal education, but some believe that based on his writings, the Jesuits taught Miguel.
War and Poetry
In 1569, de Cervantes published his first literary piece, a collection of poetry that honored Elizabeth of Valoris, wife of the Spanish king Philip II. The next year, Miguel picked up a weapon and fought under a Spanish military unit out of Italy. The soldiers in his unit knew de Cervantes for his bravery, and during the Battle of Lepanto, de Cervantes was stationed on the ship La Marquesa. During this battle, Cervantes had his left hand completely maimed, and he suffered two major wounds to the chest. Even despite his disabilities, Cervantes continued serving as a soldier for few more years.
While Don Quixote did not make Cervantes wealthy, part of the reason was how writers of the time did not receive royalties for their work. Even after the wild success of Don Quixote, the world’s first bestseller, Miguel started working on the Labors of Persiles and Segismunda, but he failed to finish it because of his death.