Miguel de Cervantes
Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, born September 29, 1547, was a Spanish novelist, dramatist, and poet. Cervantes was the author of the novel Don Quixote, a masterpiece of world literature that was a great influence to other renaissance writers. Cervantes was born to a poor family in a town called Alcala de Henares. His father was a surgeon who made little money to support the family . Without the means for much formal education, Cervantes became a soldier. On his return to Spain he worked at a series of government jobs that involved extensive travel in Andalucia. (Funk & Wagnalls Encyclopedia) . His career as a public servant was marked by as much misfortune as was his military career. Not till his later years did Cervantes find a patron. It was then that he had the time to devote to his writing.
Cervantes was a literary experimenter. In 1568, when Cervantes was a student, a number of his poems appeared in a volume published in Madrid to commemorate the death of the Spanish queen Elizabeth of Valois. In 1569 he went to Rome, where in the following year he entered the service of Cardinal Giulio Acquaviva. Soon afterward Cervantes joined a Spanish regiment in Naples. He fought in 1571 against the Turks in the naval battle in Lepanto, in which he lost the use of his left hand. While returning to Spain in 1575, Cervantes was captured by Barbary pirates. He was taken to Algeria as a slave and held there for ransom. (Funk & Wagnalls Encyclopedia). He did however make several unsuccessful escape attempts, but he was finally ransomed in 1580 by his family and friends. Returning to Spain at the age of 33, Cervantes, despite his wartime service and Algerian adventure, was unable to obtain employment with a noble family. This was usually the gift presented to military veterans for their distinguished courage. Deciding to become a writer, he turned out poems and plays at a prodigious rate between 1582 and 1585 (Funk & Wagnalls Encyclopedia)....
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