200 years ago, in the city of Valladolid, one of the most important figures in Spanish literature was born: the writer José Zorrilla Moral. To mark the anniversary of his birth, Correos issued a stamp with a portrait of the writer, who was said to be reluctant to have his photograph taken. Behind the image of the poet is an illustration of Doña Inés, the protagonist of his play Don Juan Tenorio, and a swordsman brandishing his sabre.
StampNews.com encourages every stamp collector to appreciate an original design of this philatelic item!
Twenty years later, on 15 February 1837, the funeral was held of another brilliant writer, Mariano José de Larra, who had committed suicide a few days before, after being disappointed in love. At the graveside, a young up-and-coming poet called José Zorrilla read a heartfelt elegy he had composed for the occasion.
Nobody knew him or had heard of him before, but the baby-faced writer who recited his verses in the midst of the Romantics mourning the death of the great Larra captured the attention of everyone there.
Indeed, some gossiped that Zorrilla had written and read that poem at the funeral because he wanted to take the place of the deceased. Whatever the truth of the matter, he got the job, and thanks to that we can still enjoy his writings today. It was said that on that day, Larra died and Zorrilla was born.
He achieved success and a chair in the Royal Academy of the Spanish Language, which he entered on 31 May 1885, with a speech on “Poetic Autobiography and Self-Portraits”.
But this was not the first chair he was awarded. He was elected as a member of the Academy in 1848 with the chair H, but did not arrive to deliver his speech in the required time, and so according to the rules of the institution, he could not continue as a member. Fortunately, nearly 40 years later, he took a new chair with an extraordinary composition in verse.