Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra (September 29, 1547 (assumed) - April 22, 1616) was a Spanish poet, novelist and short story writer. He is considered to be the most important literary figure of the Spanish Golden Age. He is best known as the author of Don Quixote.
He left some information about himself in the prologues of his works, but it is not clear to what extent that information is real or fictional. The most well known fact is that he lost his left hand in the Battle of Lepanto.
Cervantes was a contemporary of William Shakespeare, although it is unlikely that the two men ever met.
Cervantes was born in Alcalá de Henares on 29 September 1547. It is thought that he did not go to university. He studied in Valladolid, Córdoba and Seville. His first published work was three poems that he wrote for a book about the death of Isabel de Valois in 1568.
In 1569 Cervantes fled to Rome to hide after insulting Antonio de Sigura. He served as a soldier there for Captain Diego de Urbina, fighting in the Battle of Lepanto. While very ill, he disobeyed an order to remain on ship. He fought in the battle and lost his left hand.
In 1575, he was taken prisoner by the Turks in Cadaqués, now called the Costa Brava. His brother was also captured there. They were taken to Argel for five years during which time he made four escape attempts. Cervantes' mother paid a ransom to free the two brothers but it was not enough for both of them. Miguel decided that his brother should be freed. On 1580, two monks called Brother Antonio de la Bella and Brother Juan Gil paid for his freedom.
Cervantes was freed and rejoined his family in Madrid. The following year, he moved to Portugal, in the service of King Felipe II. He worked on a secret mission in Orán. On 1582, he started a relationship with Ana Villafranca and had a daughter with her. The girl, Isabel, was given up for adoption
His first writing of some length and style was La Galatea, published in 1585. It is a collection of six book about country life. There are a great number of poems inserted into the work.
In 1604, he published the first part of his great novel Don Quixote.
In 1613, Novelas ejemplares (Exemplary Novels) was published. It is a collection of novels: La Gitanilla, El amante liberal, Rinconete y Cortadillo, la española inglesa, La fuerza de la sangre, El licenciado Vidriera, La ilustre fregona, El casamiento engañoso, El celoso extremeño, Las dos doncellas, El coloquio de los perros and La señora Cornelia. Some of them have Italian influences and others are comic novels.
In 1614, he published' El Viaje del Parnaso, a poem.
in 1615, the second part of Don Quixote was published.