Francisco Villaespesa: Biography, Style And Works

Francisco Villaespesa Martín (1877-1936) was a Spanish writer, poet, playwright and storyteller, within the ranks of the current of modernism. His work was abundant, divided into genres such as theater, narrative and lyric; in the latter he demonstrated his ability and talent for sonnets.

Within Villaespesa’s prolific work were his first books of poems Intimidades y Luchas. In these texts, the influence of the Spanish playwright and poet José Zorrilla was evidenced, in terms of issues raised and rhythm in the meter, as well as a late arrival to romanticism.

Although Villaespesa was one of the main exponents of modernism, and his innovative and creative work was one of the most important and recognized of his time, currently he has not been given the deserved place. Like many intellectuals and writers, the author has been forgotten.


Birth and education

Francisco Villaespesa was born on October 15, 1877 in Laujar de Andarax, in the province of Almería, into a family of good economic status. His first years of school education were spent in his hometown. Since he was little he showed a talent for letters.

When he finished high school, Francisco began studying law at the University of Granada. However, he was not entirely attracted to the law, so much so that, in 1897, he retired and left for Malaga. Later he went to Madrid, where he worked as a journalist.

First publications

Villaespesa, in addition to practicing journalism in Madrid, also dedicated himself to writing for some print media. The literary meetings in the cafes became a constant meeting point with other intellectuals, among them Alejandro Sawa and Ricardo José Catarineu, from Germinal magazine .

It was in that literary magazine that the writer published his first works. In 1898 Francisco’s ability to write led him to publish his first lyrical work, entitled Intimidades. At that time he began to relate to Elisa González Columbio, who in a short period became his wife.

Between writings and trips

Francisco Villaespesa’s life as a couple did not last long, because his wife died in 1903. However, in her he found an inspiring muse, his work Tristitiae rerum was one of them. The writer advanced in his professional path, and founded such magazines as Electra and La Revista Latina.

In 1911 Villaespesa decided to experiment in the theatrical world, and carried out with total success the work in verse : El Alcázar de las Perlas. At that stage he became a traveler, Italy, Portugal and Latin America were his main destinations, in those places he related to writers, poets and intellectuals.

Last years of Villaespesa

Francisco Villaespesa remained in America for about ten years. At that time he met the Nicaraguan poet Rubén Darío, who became his follower and student. After living in countries such as Mexico, Venezuela and Puerto Rico, in 1921 he returned to Spain and was active in the ranks of modernism.

Some time later he returned to Latin America, and while in Brazil he became ill with paralysis. In 1931 he returned to his country, and his health began to deteriorate, he died on April 9, 1936 in the capital of Spain, due to hypertension and arteriosclerosis.


The literary style of Francisco Villaespesa was framed within the characteristics of modernism, that is, his writings were of an elegant, refined and cultured language. His creative and innovative capacity in letters gave him a special place.

In the poetic sphere, Villaespesa was a writer who gave his verses sound and musicality. He also made constant use of metaphors, in addition to symbols in his different themes, such as: love, history and sadness.


Francisco Villaespesa’s works totaled 151 books, not counting the poems or writings that he unofficially developed. Here are some of his most outstanding works:


– Intimacies (1898).

Struggles (1899).

– Confidences (1899).

– The King’s Cup of Thule (1900).

– The sick muse (1901).

– The high of the bohemians (1902).

– Rhapsodies (1905).

– Songs of the way (1906).

– Tristitiae rerum (1906).

– Carmen: songs (1907).

– The patio of the myrtles (1908).

– The Lindaraxa viewpoint (1908).

– The Book of Job (1909).

– The garden of chimeras (1909).

– The hours that pass (1909).

– Sentimental journey (1909).

– In the rain (1910).

– The backwaters of twilight (1911).

– Andalusia (1911).

– Ivory tower.

– Saudades.

– In memoriam.

– Dream mullions.

– Lands of charm and wonder.

– The nights of the Generalife.

– Peace Love.

– The book of love and death.

– The lone star.

– Afternoons of Xotchimilco (1919).

– The conquerors (1920).

– Galleons of India.

– The charm of the Alhambra.

– Tambourines and sevillanas.

– I sing to the regions of Spain.

– Empty Hands (1935).

– Rincón ancestral (1936, posthumous edition).

Brief description of his most representative collection of poems

Intimacies (1898)

It was Villaespesa’s first collection of poems, in which the poet captured some of the traits of romanticism. However, he further demonstrated his preference for modernism, through a cultured and well-structured language, and also made clear his taste for the rhythm of verses and metaphors.

Fragment of “To fortune”

“Four lime walls, books and a

window to the field, and in the distance

the mountains or the sea, and the joy

of the sun , and the sadness of the moon:

that to my eternal Moorish laxity,

to live in peace it would be enough… ”.


– The miracle of things (1907).

– The last Abderramán (1909).

– The gentle miracles (1911).

– Aisha’s revenge (1911).

– The cloth of Penelope (1913).

– The gentleman of the miracle (1916).

– The city of opals (1921).


– The Alcazar of Pearls (1911).

– Aben-Humeya (1913).

– Doña María de Padilla (1913). It was him (1914).

– Judith (1915).

– La maja de Goya (1917). Hernán Cortés (1917).

– Bolívar (Unknown date).

– The lioness of Castile (Unknown date).

– The falconer (Unknown date).

– King Galaor (Date unknown).

Brief description of his most representative theatrical work

The Alcazar of Pearls (1911)

It was one of the first plays of Villaespesa, it premiered successfully on November 11, 1911 in Granada, at the Gran Teatro Isabel La Católica. Written in verses and structured in four acts, it was the story of Ahzuma who was commissioned by King Alhamar to build a castle of pearls.

Ahzuma was slow to fulfill the monarch’s wish; however, when inspiration struck, he was assassinated in front of his girlfriend. The assassin, Abu Ishac, who wanted the throne, stole the plans, so the story became more tragic due to attempts to recover them.

Compilations and anthologies

– My best stories (1921).

– Complete poetry (1954).

– Complete novels (1964).

– Chosen theater (Unknown date).


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