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MIGUEL DE CERVANTES

1547-1616
Spanish

"From reading too much, and sleeping too little, his brain dried up on him and he lost his judgment. "

Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra was born in Alcala de Henares, near Madrid, Spain in 1547. Virtually nothing is known of his childhood, apart from the fact that his father, Rodrigo de Cervantes, was a surgeon, a poorly paid profession in those days, and that the family were constantly on the move. He was a student at an arts school in Madrid in 1568, but moved to Rome in 1569. In 1570 he enlisted with the Spanish forces stationed in Italy and fought in the naval battle of Lepanto, in which he was wounded, losing the use of his left hand.  He was captured by pirates in 1575, and spent the next five years as a prisoner in Algiers.

For almost all of the rest of his life Cervantes struggled to earn a living from writing and working in various lowly positions for the government. In 1585, Cervantes published a pastoral novel named La Galatea. It was in 1597, while imprisoned in Sevilla for debt, that he began to write his greatest work, The Ingenious Gentleman Don Quixote of La Mancha, Part I was published in 1605, and was almost immediately hailed as a masterpiece. The second part was finally published to great acclaim in 1615, just a year before his death, at the age of 69, in 1616. The cause of his death in uncertain, and the whereabouts of his body unknown.

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