José de Espronceda y Delgado

Portait of José de Espronceda y Delgado

José Ignacio de Espronceda y Delgado was Spain’s most important Romantic poet. He was born on 25th March 1808 in Almendralejo de los Barros, Spain aged 34.

Major Works

El Diablo Mundo” (1833-published 1841)
“El Estudiente de Salamanca” (1837)
“Al dos Mayo”, “El Mendidigo”, “A Jarifa en Una Orgía”, “El Verdugo”, “El Canto del Cosaco”, “Himno al Sol”. (1840)

Biography Timeline

José Ignacio Javier Oriol Encarnación de Espronceda y Delgado was born on 25th March 1808 in Almendralejo, Spain. His father was an officer in the Spanish Bourbon regiment and fought in the Peninsula War.

1814: At the end of the war José is sent to the preparatory school of artillery in Segovia and then moves to the Colegio San Mateo in Madrid, under the tutelage of the poet and professor of literature, Alberto Lista. 

1822: Lista is impressed with his pupil’s poetry.

1823: Aged fifteen he forms a secret society with several friends called “Los Numantinos”. The group conspires against the King of Spain, Ferdinand the Seventh, and tries to avenge the death of the liberal general Rafael del Riego. He is arrested and sentenced by the authorities to five years’ confinement in the Franciscan convent at Guadalajara. There he begins his epic historical poem “El Pelayo”, which never gets completed.

1828: After his release he goes into exile travelling to Portugal where he meets the Spaniard Teresa Mancha for the first time, then, Belgium, France, the Netherlands and England. In England he becomes a student of William Shakespeare, John Milton and Lord Byron and meets up with Teresa once more.

1830: He travels with Teresa to Paris and takes part in the July revolution and then joins the raid on Navarre.

1832: The couple escape from the Passy neighborhood of Paris on the 16th October taking advantage of a recent amnesty decree.

1833: He returns to Madrid in March and Teresa joins him there a few later. She has their daughter Blanca in May. He writes “Canto a Teresa” (in “El Diablo Mundo) in Teresa’s honour. He also receives a commission in the Queen’s Guards but his dabbling in left wing politics and the writing of political songs soon means he is banished once again and is sent to the Cuellar region of Spain.

1834: He writes the novel “Sancho Saldana 6 el Castellano de Cuellar”.

1835: He becomes active in the revolutionary risings of 1835 and 1836. 

1836: After several arguments Teresa Macha leaves him at the end of the year.

1837: He writes “El Estudiente de Salamanca” whose main character is Don Félix de Montemar and is a variant on the Don Juan legend. 

1840: On the accession of the Liberal party to government in Spain he is appointed secretary of legation at the Hague. His collected poems are first published gaining him an important reputation. Other Byronic influences can be seen in “Canci On del Pirata” based on “The Corsair” and El Diablo Mundo” based on the story of Faust.

1842: He is elected as a Deputy for Almeria and seems destined for a successful parliamentary career but his health is now failing.

José de Espronceda y Delgado died of diptheria on 23rd May 1842 in Madrid, Spain. After first being buried in a city cemetery his remains were moved in 1902 to the Panteon de Hombres Ilustres in Madrid.