Biography of Famous Spanish Playwright Felix Lope de Vega Carpio Part 1

About the famous Spanish playwright Felix Lope de Vega, history and biography of the writer.


Felix Lope de Vega Carpio (1563-1635)

Some peasant girls,

Without makeup and fancy clothes,

Bear away our eyes

And with them our hearts.

El mejor alcalde el rey, Act I

The exact output of Spain's most prolific dramatist is unknown. He allegedly completed between 1,500 and 2,000 dramas, of which some 426 plays and 42 autos sacramentales, or one-act religious dramas, still survive. Lope de Vega created the mode for European drama, plotting in 3 acts with his denouement coming midway through the 3rd. Of an Asturian peasant background, he wrote for the masses with a graceful, flowing style, mostly in verse, which combined the elegant phrasing of the nobility with the crudities of the peasant. The resultant product, with its effortless rhythm, was so perfect it gave rise to the expression, Es de Lope ("It is Lope's"). His plays were ambitious and full of earthy passion. He created a blend of the serious with the comedic, and gave his characters--especially the women--the traits of being both shrewd and commonly wise.

Lope de Vega read Latin at 5 and translated Claudius when he was 10. When 12, he had completed his 1st 4-act play, El verdadero amante, and 3 years later was off to fight a war in Portugal. Next to Cervantes, who called him the Monstruo de la Naturaleza (the "Monster of Nature"), his reputation in Spanish literary circles was unmatched.

His dalliances, liaisons, and amours were legion. With Elena Osorio--the young married daughter of Jeronimo Velazquez, for whom he began to write plays--his affair lasted for 5 years. It ended when Velazquez sued for libel and won, forcing Lope de Vega into exile from Madrid for 10 years. Micaela de Lujan--the "Lucinda" of his sonnets--coproduced 4 illegitimate children for him. However, he sired only one legitimate son, Carlos, during his 2nd marriage, which was to Juana de Guardo. Well into middle age, he continued to produce in the boudoir, having yet more progeny with the married Dona Marta de Nevares Santoya at the age of 60. She became the model for his main character in Amarilis in 1632, completed the year after her death. And from his experiences with Jeronima de Burgos, he wrote his best-known comedy of love intrigues, La dama boba.

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