Coming to the world, a August 12, 1866, in the convulsive Madrid of the time, it was difficult to predict that this child, the youngest of the three children of the renowned pediatrician Mariano Benavente, would end up being the second Spaniard to get a Nobel Prize for Literature.
It was in 1922. A few years earlier, in 1904, José Echegaray had been the first to achieve it. The history of literature, not always fair, has engulfed many authors, and Echegaray has been relegated, despite the award, to the background. Fortunately, this has not been the case with Benavente Hyacinth, that son of a doctor who wrote for the theater some of his best lines.
Benavente studied law at the Central University of Madrid, fulfilling his father's wishes, although, upon his death, he abandoned them to devote himself to travel -especially for France and Russia- and, above all, he began to unleash his great passion: Literature.
For some time, however, it was circus businessman and, even, it has been written that at that time he drank the winds by an English trapeze artist named Bella Geraldine – the biographies of many well-known characters almost always include some surprising chapter.
His first works were a book of poems, Verses, a storybook, Villains, and a work of criticism, Women's Letters, all published in 1893. Four years later, he premiered his first play, The alien nestwhich was critically beaten. In fact, only Azorin He valued her.
This rugged debut in the theater convinced Benavente that the situation of the Spanish scene of the time advised to lean towards works closer to the taste of the general public instead of committing to a style, perhaps more demanding, but inevitably minority and misunderstood.
The great contribution of Benavente Hyacinth is that, despite everything, he was able to modernize the theater that was being made in Spain. Names like D’Annunzio, Wilde, Ibsen and Bernard Shaw, they triumphed on the stages of middle Europe, and their gateway to the peninsula was through their influences on the works of the Madrid author.
His theater transpires variety, it is a complete gallery of human types. He addressed almost every genre: tragedy, comedy, drama, sainete. And he also dared with all kinds of environments: the rural and the urban, the commoner and the aristocrat.
All of them described from a sharp social satire, with lively and dynamic dialogues. Works like Saturday night (1903), scenic novel impregnated with poetry; The vested interests (1907), skillful combination of satire and humor; o Señora ama (1908) and La malquerida (1913), both rural drama, are just some examples of her ability to jump from one style to another.
With barely thirty years he was already a known author and, after fighting with Valle-Inclán, Another of the greats of the Spanish theater of the time, in the Café Madrid gathering, formed his own in the English Brewery of the Carrera de San Jerónimo.
Member of the Royal Spanish Academy, he also got into politics – he occupied a seat in the Congress of Deputies in 1918 – and in 1933 he was co-founder of the Association of Friends of the Soviet Union.
Man of strong and controversial personality, he was able to ingratiate himself with the Popular Front Government during the Civil war, which honored him several times. And, precisely because of this, after the Franco victory, his proximity to the Republican side during the armed confrontation led him to be observed with magnifying glass by the dictatorship.
It even went so far as to allow the staging of his works but without indicating that they were his. He simply became "the author of La Malquerida."
Over time, and after that Benavente It will be seen in the Plaza de Oriente in Madrid, in the great demonstration in favor of the 1947 regime, the Francoist authorities took a surprising turn to their vision of the Nobel Prize, which became "our preamble theater author." As he states Crispin, the protagonist of The vested interests, "in life more important than creating affections is creating interests"