Jose Zorrilla y Moral

José Zorrilla y Moral was a Spanish Nationalist poet and playwright. He was born on 21st February 1817 in Valladolid, Spain and died on 23rd January 1893 in Madrid, Spain aged 75. 

Major Works

“Cantos del Trovador (1841)
“Don Juan Tenorio” (1844)
“Traidor, Inconfeso y Martir” (1849)

Biography Timeline

José Zorrilla y Moral was born on 21st February 1817 in Valladolid, Spain. His father was a magistrate favoured by King Ferdinand the Seventh. He was educated at the Jesuit run Real Seminario de Nobles in Madrid and was interested in stage performance and literature at an early age, particularly the works of Walter Scott and François-René de Chateaubriand.

1833: He enrols at the University of Toledo to study law but is not interested in the subject.

1834: He fleas to Madrid where he makes anti-government speeches and founds a newspaper which is then banned by the authorities. He narrowly escapes being transported to the Philippines as a punishment but spends the next few years in poverty writing.

1837: In February he reads his elegiac poem at the funeral of the satirist and poet Mariano José de Larra and comes to public notice. He publishes his first book of poetry which is heavily influenced by Alphonse de Lamartine and Victor Hugo. It is so popular that it is reprinted six more times over the coming years.

1839: He collaborates with Antonio Garcia Gutierrez on the play “Juán Dondolo”.

1840: He begins writing his first solo play “Cada Cual con su Razón (The Cobbler and the King).

1841: He publishes “Cantos del Trovado” a collection of national verse legends which become very popular also.

1842: He publishes “The Goth’s Dagger”. 

1844: He scores his greatest success with “Don Juan Tenorio” (which is still performed in the twenty-first century) even though he thought it a failure himself.

1847: His mother dies and he leaves to live in Bordeaux in France and then moves to Paris.

1849: He considers his final play “Traidor, Inconfeso y Martir” (Treacherous, Unconfessed, and Martyr) to be his best work.

1852: His incomplete poem “Granada” is published in Paris.

1854: He leaves his wife and very depressed travels to America hoping to die of yellow fever. He then moves on to Mexico and receives a warm welcome from Emperor Maximilian.

1860: He becomes director of the National Theatre in Mexico City.

1866: He returns to Spain where he has lost his reputation and is considered old fashioned. Friends help him obtain a job, but a republican minister later abolishes it.

1871: His financial circumstances are the worst they have ever been.

1880: His autobiography “Recuerdos del Tiempo Viejo” is published but does not earn him much money. His plays are still performed but he does not receive any royalties from them.

1889: Critics at last realise the strength of his work and he receives a gold medal from the Spanish Academy and is crowned the National Laureate in Granada complete with pension.

José Zorrilla y Moral died on 23rd January 1893 in Madrid, Spain. He was buried in the Cementerio de El Carmen in Valladolid, Spain.