Miguel de Cervantes

Writer

Born: 29 September 1547
Died: 23 April 1616
Birthplace: Alcala de Henares, Spain
Best known as: Author of Don Quixote

Full name: Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra

Miguel de Cervantes wrote the epic satire Don Quixote, which is regarded as the first true modern novel. Little is known of Cervantes's early life; at 23 he enlisted in the Spanish militia and then fought against the Turks in the battle of Lepanto (1571) where a gunshot wound permanently crippled his left hand. He spent four more years at sea and then another five as a slave after being captured by Barbary pirates. Ransomed by his family, he returned to Madrid but his disability hampered him; it was in debtor's prison that he began to write Don Quixote. The title character, a dreamy middle-aged nobleman, sets out through Spain on a makeshift quest to fight injustice through acts of chivalry. Cervantes wrote many other works, including poems and plays, but none had the impact or popularity of his masterpiece.

Extra credit: Because of his injury Cervantes was nicknamed "the cripple of Levanto"... Don Quixote is the basis for the musical Man of La Mancha... Cervantes died on the same day as author William Shakespeare.

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