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Chacel, Rosa (1898–1994)

Chacel, Rosa (1898–1994)

Spanish writer. Name variations: Rosa Clotilde Cecilia María del Carmen Chacel Arimón. Born in Valladolid, northcentral Spain, on June 3, 1898; died of heart and lung failure, age 96, in Madrid on August 3, 1994; daughter of Francisco Chacel Barbero and Rosa Cruz Arimón Pacheco; studied art in Madrid andspent six years in Rome; married Timoteo Pérez Rubio (a painter), in April 1922; children: Carlos.

Rosa Chacel was born in Valladolid, Spain, on June 3, 1898, the daughter of Francisco Chacel Barbero and Rosa Cruz Arimón Pacheco. Her mother, a teacher by profession, instructed Rosa at home, and her education progressed rapidly although she missed interaction with other children. When she was ten years old, her family moved to Madrid, where she studied sculpture in the Fine Arts School of San Fernando. After a six-year engagement, she married Timoteo Pérez Rubio, a painter, in 1922. Her first experience outside Spain came in 1927 when Timoteo received an art scholarship, and she accompanied him to Italy, Germany, and France.

Intrigued by the intellectual and artistic currents of the time, Chacel studied literature and then began writing. Her first book, Estación, ida y vuelta (Season of Departure and Return), was published in 1930, the same year as the birth of her only child Carlos. When the Spanish Civil War began, she supported the Republic against Franco's Nationalists, working in a hospital, and she also published a book of sonnets, A la orilla de un pozo.

In late 1936, displaced by the Nationalist victory, she left Spain for refuge in France. Then with the outbreak of the Second World War, she and her family moved to Buenos Aires in 1940. There, Chacel continued to write, and her works began to attract critical attention, including a fellowship from the Guggenheim Foundation. In 1962, she returned to Spain for several months but found her homeland now unappealing. The family moved to Rio de Janeiro in 1964. Over the following years, she spent greater amounts of time in Spain, participating in literary conferences. After 1974, she and her husband split their time between Brazil and Spain. Meanwhile, her critical acclaim promoted Chacel's standing with the reading public. Saddened by her husband's death in 1977, Chacel nonetheless continued actively in literary and cultural circles. Among her many awards and recognitions was the National Prize for Spanish Letters presented to her by the Spanish Ministry of Culture in 1987.

Chacel's chief works include novels: Teresa (1941), Memorias de Leticia Valle (Memoirs of Leticia Valle, 1946), Ofrenda a una virgen loca (1960), La sinrazón (1960), Barrio de Maravillas (1976); autobiographical works: Desde el amanecer (1972), Alcancía (1982); and a compilation of literary criticism: Los títulos (1981).


Mateo, María Asunción. Retrato de Rosa Chacel. Galería de Grandes Contemporáneos. Barcelona: Círculo de Lectores, 1993.

Kendall W. Brown , Provo, Utah

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