Salvador De Madariaga: Biography, Style, Works And Phrases

Salvador de Madariaga y Rojo (1886-1978) was a Spanish writer and diplomat who belonged to the Generation of 14. His liberal thoughts and ideas were reflected in his work, which developed within the genres of essays, poetry and novel.

Madariaga’s work was characterized by being of a historical and political nature. In addition, he delved into literary and cultural issues of Spain, in biographies of characters such as Cristóbal Colón , Simón Bolívar, Hernán Cortés, among others. The author wrote in Spanish, French and English.

Salvador de Madariaga also held some political positions, such as deputy to the Cortes, minister of justice and minister of public instructions and fine arts. He was also a defender of European culture, and conceived of Europe as a federal and independent territory.


Birth and family

Salvador was born in La Coruña on July 23, 1886, into a traditional family with a solid financial position. His parents were Darío José de Madariaga, colonel, and María Ascensión Rojo. The writer grew up among ten siblings.

Education and academic training

Madariaga received a good education from an early age. His first years of training were spent in Spain, later, in 1900, his father sent him to France to study engineering. The writer studied at the Chaptal High School, the Polytechnic School and the Higher School of Mines.

After eleven years of living in France, Madariaga managed to graduate, however, his true vocation was literature. Through his father he became an engineer. Upon returning to his country, he practiced his profession in the Northern Railroad Company; but the field also began to open up as an article writer in Madrid.

Madariaga’s first steps in the field of letters

The year after returning to Spain, in 1912, Salvador married a young woman of Scottish origin named Constance Archibald. At that time he joined the League of Political Education association, of which intellectuals of the stature of José Ortega y Gasset and Ramiro de Maeztu were part.

Madariaga lived in the United Kingdom for a season, after the start of the First World War , in 1914. There he worked as a writer of propaganda in favor of the allies, under the orders of the highest British body in Foreign Affairs. At that time his liberal ideas were already clear.

Writer and teacher

In 1919 Madariaga returned to Spain, and the war had ended, and he worked as an engineer again. He was also a columnist for the British newspapers Manchester Guardian and Time; His affinity for politics led him to join The League of Nations in 1921.

His performance within the organization for international relations, after the First World War, was successful, so much so that it remained until 1927. The following year he was a professor at the University of Oxford for three years.

Madariaga, politician and diplomat

Although Salvador de Madariaga had a talent for politics, at times he was not consulted for some positions. This is how in 1931 he was appointed ambassador of his country to the United States, and then, in June, he was elected deputy for his hometown with the Autonomous Galician Republican Organization.

During the years of the Second Spanish Republic he rejoined the League of Nations, and from 1932 to 1934 he was ambassador to France. After that period, and under the administration of Alejandro Lerroux, he was Minister of Justice and Fine Arts in Spain.

Civil war and exile

In 1936, when the Spanish Civil War began, Salvador de Madariaga was in the city of Toledo, and, out of fear, he decided to go into exile in the United Kingdom. He also sought an end to the conflict through letters he sent to then-British Minister Robert Anthony Eden.

In exile he accentuated his opposition to the Franco regime. In addition, he participated in various political events, and was nominated for the Nobel Prize for Literature and for the second time the Nobel Peace Prize. At that time he wrote for some media such as the Iberian magazine , of which he was honorary president.

Last years and death

During his years outside of Spain there were numerous activities that Madariaga organized against Franco, including the Congress of the European Movement. In 1970, at 84 years of age and after the death of his first wife, Salvador de Madariaga married his assistant, Emilia Szeleky. Three years later he was awarded the Charlemagne Prize.

In 1976 he went to Spain, and made his membership official in the Royal Spanish Academy, after forty years of being appointed. Madariaga’s life died on December 14, 1978, he was 92 years old. In 1991 they threw his ashes with those of his last wife, in the sea of ​​La Coruña.


Salvador de Madariaga’s literary style was characterized by the use of precise and cultured language. The theme of his articles and essays revolved around Spanish culture, as well as politics and important figures in history.

As for his narrative work, the language had ironic and satirical tones. His novels were developed in a fabulous and creative way, but always maintaining the seriousness and depth of the themes; Franco’s feminism and politics were paramount.


Historical essays

– Spain. Contemporary history essay (1931).

– Life of the very magnificent Mr. Cristóbal Colón (1940).

– Hernán Cortés (1941).

– Historical painting of the Indies (1945).

– Bolívar (1951).

– The rise of the Spanish empire in America (1956).

– The decline of the Spanish empire in America (1956).

– The Hispanic cycle (1958).

– Present and Future of Hispanoamerica and Other Essays (1959).

– Latin America between the Eagle and the Bear (1962).


– The sacred giraffe (1925).

– The enemy of God (1936).

– Bouquet of errors (1952).

– Comrade Ana (1954).

– Sanco Panco (1964).

Esquiveles and Manriques , series composed of:

– The green stone heart (1942).

– War the blood (1956).

– A drop of time (1958).

– The black stallion (1961).

– Satanael (1966).

Political essays

– The war from London (1917).

– Disarmament (1929).

– International speeches (1934).

– Anarchy or hierarchy (1935).

– Be careful, winners! (1945).

– From anguish to freedom (1955).

– General, go away (1959).

– The blowing up of the Parthenon (1960).


– Romances de ciego (1922).

– The serene fountain (1927).

– Elegy in the dead of Unamuno (1937).

– Elegy on the death of Federico García Lorca (1938).

– Rose of silt and ash (1942).

– Romances for Beatriz (1955).

– The one that smells of thyme and rosemary (1959).

– Poppy (1965).


– “Conscience does not prevent us from committing sins, but unfortunately we do enjoy them.”

– “The human soul has more roots and branches than it seems.”

– “The abuse of power is a disease, apparently incurable of the human being, and of course, that produces disorder.”

– “The end of life is contemplation; and there is no contemplation without leisure ”.

– “The creative spirit does not ask: it knows.”

– “The despot always seeks the means of destroying institutions, for which it is enough to submit them to his will.”

– “Modern man is an uprooted tree. His anguish comes from the fact that his roots hurt ”.

– “It can be affirmed without fear of error that the work of women in their home is the most creative that can be imagined.”

– “… Saying well is nothing other than thinking well.”

– “He writes like a perfectly ignorant person, like a resentful person, like a fatuous Oxfornian who believes that with this condition he can overwhelm everyone”.


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