This week we talk about the writer Emilia Pardo Bazán, one of the greatest European novelists of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. This talented writer from A Coruña became a benchmark in journalism and was an important figure in the fight against educational inequality between women and men.
Emilia Pardo Bazán was the first woman professor of literature at the University of Madrid. But despite this triumph, she never managed to enter the Real Academia de la Lengua. Even though she had sufficient merit, the then professors of the language never allowed her to become a member of such a high institution. It was not until 1978, with the poet and playwright Carmen Conde, that a woman managed to enter the RAE. Since that year, up to 11 women have been members of the RAE, an institution that was formed in 1713, and which today has its headquarters in Madrid, in Calle Felipe IV, whose building was built expressly for the corporation and inaugurated in 1894.
Literature has always been a part of Emilia’s life. In fact, at the age of 9 she composed her first verses and at the age of 15, she published her first short story. Contrary to what one might think, it was in narrative that the author was most important. Influenced by French naturialism, she excelled in narrative texts with a strong social charge, narrating the problems and life of the working class. In the naturalism field, the work Los pazos de Ulloa (1887) stands out. In it we can observe the confrontation between passion, cruelty and violence in the rural and court worlds. This novel has been adapted for the theatre on numerous occasions and has even been adapted into a miniseries, which you can see through the link to at the end of the article.
Always defending female gender in her texts, Emilia wrote without any kind of pseudonym, contrary to what was common at the time in which she lived, and she is considered to be the forerunner of feminism in Spain.
Committed to equality, she was a staunch defender of women’s rights, not only through her works. In fact, she founded the Women’s Library. A publishing project which aimed to bring to the female public works that conveyed progressive ideas for women.
Emilia Pardo Bazán was a woman who, contrary to the norm of her time, participated in public life and always fought against the social conventions. Making the Latin motto “de bellum luce” her own, she was never content with merely making her works known, or being allowed to write. She always fought against the censorship of her fellow writers and developed her talents like other intellectuals of the time; hence she wrote articles and essays to help give voice to women’s equality.
If you want more information about Emilia Pardo Bazán, we recommend you to watch the short documentary about her life that you will find at the end of the article. Don’t forget to visit other entries in our blog, talking about great personalities of Hispanic culture such as: Frida Kahlo or Clara Campoamor, among many others.