Biography of Álvaro Cunqueiro Mora (1911-1981)

Spanish writer, born in Mondoñedo (Lugo) December 22, 1911 and died in Vigo (Pontevedra) on February 28, 1981, that is considered one of the most prominent writers of Galician letters of the 20th century, both in Spanish and in Galician. At a time in which the Spanish letters dominated the concern for social issues, Cunqueiro started alone a literary adventure full of fantasy and imagination.


He was the son of a pharmacist interested in reading and gastronomy, hobbies that the future writer inherited as a child. His mother was love of tales and legends of folklore. He/She read widely in his childhood and youth, and was very interested by the numerous traditions that were kept in his Galician homeland.

In 1921 he/she moved to Lugo for his secondary studies (high school). Thanks to some good friends who shared with him his love of reading, he/she began to see the works of the great authors of the generation of 27. At the time saw the light its first written, published in the newspaper of the Institute.

Impassioned by the Galician land, in 1927 moved to Santiago de Compostela to study, in its famous University, philosophy and literature. In that city began to integrate into groups of young writers and artists Galician of his time, many of them influenced by the avant-garde movements.

During the 1930s, he/she published articles and poems in several newspapers and magazines in his native Galicia, and was distinguished for his political ideas in favour of the Statute of autonomy for his homeland. It was also in that decade, when was known as a writer, with books of poems that emphasized the beauty of Galicia and the richness of their traditions.

Until then, he/she had written almost exclusively in Galician. After the Civil War, he/she settled in Madrid and began to write in the newspaper ABC, already in the Castilian language. Already at that time, it was famous for its culture, his poems, his articles and his lectures, which demonstrated extensive knowledge on all the Arts (music, literature, painting...).

Apart from ABC, wrote in other newspapers and magazines, many of them related to the Phalanx; also dedicated poems to the founder of this group (José Antonio Primo de Rivera) and general Franco. However, soon he/she stopped collaborating with the Franco regime, prompting removed the journalist card.

As I could not work in the Madrid press, he/she returned to Galicia. There you got to stop him returning to practice journalism, and his signature was common in newspapers like El Progreso, La Voz de Galicia and, above all, the lighthouse of Vigo, which became director.

In the 1950s and 1960s he/she became famous for his novels, which won major awards. In spite of this, as it wrote in the margin of the fashions of their time not considered him a great writer until after his death.


Álvaro Cunqueiro was a writer of genius, able to express themselves with absolute brilliance and correction, both in Spanish and in Galician. He/She took his wide cultural training in knowledge more varied, from Celtic mythology to gastronomy, passing by all the European literatures, to encompass a wide variety of themes in his work. He/She cultivated besides all literary genres: novel, story, poetry, theatre, essay, journalism, etc.

Despite all these merits, his work was not too valued among the writers of his generation. This is because it not dealt with social issues, like most of his colleagues; his work focused, instead, on aspects of fantastic and mysterious, enriched with numerous cultural notes and his peculiar sense of humor.

Cunqueiro is one of the most enjoyable and original 20th century writers. His work in prose (as well as its Theatre) is a prodigious blend of fantasy and reality, in which every step humor, scholarship, artistic sensitivity and tenderness.

The Galician writer takes numerous events and characters of the history, legend and mythology (such as the wizard Merlin, the adventurer Sinbad or Greek Ulysses), and places them in your magic universe (sometimes located in his native Galicia, and others in the places most visited by Western, such as Brittany or the ancient Greece literature).

He wrote three novels in Galician (which were then translated into Spanish by the own Cunqueiro): Merlin and family (1955), the Chronicles of the Sochantre (1956), when the old Sinbad returns to the Islands (1961). Was also the author of other four novels written directly in Spanish: the mocedades de Ulises (1960), a man who looked like Orestes (1969), Nadal Prize in 1968; Life and escape of Fanto Fantini della Gherardesca (1972) and the year of the Comet with the battle of the four kings (1974)

In addition, wrote numerous short stories and novellas which saw the light in books such as: San Gonzalo (1945), Ballad of the ladies of the past tense (1945), Knight, death and the Devil (1956) and flowers of the year one thousand and pico de ave (1968).

The first poems by Álvaro Cunqueiro are heavily influenced by the avant-garde, in particular by the work of Vicente Huidobro. Later, Cunqueiro looked toward the traditions of their homeland and regained the style of the old songs of the medieval troubadours.

He published six books of poetry, five in Galician, Mar ao Norde (1932), poems do if e non (1933), Cantiga nova is chama ribeira (1933) used where the oldest metric forms of literature; Dona do corpo delgado (1950), Herba here ou acolá (1930), and one in Spanish Elegies and songs (1940).

His theatrical, very brief and written work all it in Galician, consists of three main headings: the surreal Xan, or bo conspirator (1933), or incerto Mr Don Hamlet, Prince of Denmark (1959) and A noite vai coma a river (1960).