Today we want to talk to you about Emilia Pardo Bazán, the writer of Stories from Madrid, which has an indisputable protagonist: the city of Madrid. Here is where the 14 stories within this volume take place. The Sun’s Gate, Recoletos, Atocha, or Toledo street are some spots where the characters masterfully portrayed by Emilia Pardo Bazán live (sometimes poorly) and survive. Emilia was a woman who perfectly reflected poverty’s desperation, ruses, and mischievousness. She loved and suffered for Madrid, the city where she went through enviousness but also fame.
Emilia Pardo Bazán was born in La Coruña in 1851. She was an avid reader from a very young age. At nine years of age, she wrote her first verses. At fifteen, her first tale, A Marriage of the 19th Century, which she sent to the “Almanaque” of the Nacional Sovereignty, would become the first of many stories she would publish.
Emilia considered the novel genre as a lesser one and instead preferred continuing with her formal education. However, learning about her contemporaries’ work encouraged her to write her first novel, Pascual López. Autobiography of a Medicine Student. Shortly after, she accepted a directorial role for “Revista de Galicia” in 1880.
In 1881 she published A Honeymoon, in which she used her experiences from a trip to France. In that same year, she also finished Saint Francis of Assisi. The prologue for A Honeymoon, and her 1882 and 1883 articles by the name of La Cuestión Palpitante, are imperative to understand the naturalism in her entire body of work. This literary movement of naturalism was one that she popularized in Spain.
From Emilia’s naturalist novels shine The Tribune of the People (1883), The House of Ulloa (1886), Mother Nature (1887), and The Angled Stone (1891). In 1891 she collaborated with the magazine New Critical Theatre, which was founded and written entirely by herself. The magazine was generally cultural and informative, honoring Feijoo with its title and miscellaneous structure. Later, in 1892 she founded and ran the “Library of Women.”
By that point, Emilia was already a known figure in the literary, cultural, and social worlds. In 1908 she began using the title of Countess of Pardo Bazán, given to her by Alfonso XIII, because of her contributions to literature. By 1910 she was also a counselor for Public Instruction. Two years later, she was given the Band of the Order of María Luisa, and the Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice by Pope Benedict XV. In 1916, the minister of Public Instruction named her professor of Contemporary Literature in Neo-Latin Languages at the Central University.
On May 12th, 1921, her complications with diabetes ultimately caused her death. She was buried at the church of Conception in Madrid.
From “Libros de las Malas Compañías,” we want to remember this figure of Spanish literature who wrote novels despite her time’s social norms and perfectly represents this Women’s Day for not following them. Despite that, she achieved what so many could not: seeing her books being published. This is not a day for celebration but to assert and demonstrate that we all have a voice and the right to be listened to.