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Martín Gaite, Carmen (1925—)

Martín Gaite, Carmen (1925—)

Spanish novelist and historian . Name variations: Carmen Martin Gaite. Born in Salamanca, Spain, on December 8, 1925; graduated from the University of Salamanca in 1948; married Rafael Sánchez Ferlosio (a writer), in 1953 (divorced 1987); children: two.

Carmen Martín Gaite was born in the university city of Salamanca, Spain, on December 8,1925. Her progressive bourgeois parents provided private tutors for her early schooling. The Spanish Civil War (1936–39) and the subsequent consolidation of Francisco Franco's dictatorship overshadowed her youth, especially as her family's sympathies lay with the defeated Republic. Martín Gaite graduated from the University of Salamanca in 1948 and then went to Madrid, where she began work on a doctorate in history and philology. There, however, she fell in with a group of young writers interested in social criticism.

Turning to short stories and novels, Martín Gaite began to establish a reputation as one of Spain's foremost writers with the publication of the short novel El balneario (The Spa) in 1954. It won the important Gijón Prize, in part for innovatively combining fantastic and realistic elements. Her novel Entre visillos (Behind the Curtains, 1958) won the Nadal Prize, Spain's most prestigious literary award. Other novels include Ritmo lento (1962), Retahílas (1974), Fragmentos de interior (1976), and El cuarto de atrás (1978). The last received Spain's National Literature Prize in 1979 and is her most widely acclaimed work.

Meanwhile, Martín Gaite also returned to her study of history. She completed her dissertation and published it in 1969 as El proceso de Macanaz: Historia de un empapelamiento. She also researched and wrote Usos amorosos del siglo XVIII en España (1972), which examines customs of love in 18th-century Spain.

Martín Gaite's technical innovations, her sensitive rendering of women and their concerns, and her portrayal of contemporary Spanish society earned her wide recognition as one of late 20th-century Spain's foremost literary figures. In 1987, she was the first Spanish woman to become an honorary member of the Modern Language Association.


Brown, Joan L. "Carmen Martín Gaite: Reaffirming the Pact between Reader and Writer," in Women Writers of Contemporary Spain: Exiles in the Homeland. Edited by Joan L. Brown. Newark, NJ: University of Delaware Press, 1991, pp. 72–92.

Kendall W. Brown , Professor of History, Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah

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