Gerald Brenan

Gerald Brenan

Infobox Writer
name = Gerald Brenan

caption =
birthdate = 1894
birthplace = Sliema, Malta [ ["Al%20Sur%20de%20Granada" CASAS RURALES BENARUM, CASAS RURALES ALPUJARRA Granada Andalucia, España, Guia del Viajero, Historia de alpujarra de la sierra ] ]
deathdate = January 19, 1987
deathplace = Alhaurin el Grande [ ["Al%20Sur%20de%20Granada" CASAS RURALES BENARUM, CASAS RURALES ALPUJARRA Granada Andalucia, España, Guia del Viajero, Historia de alpujarra de la sierra ] ] , Spain
occupation = Author, historian

Gerald Brenan, CBE (1894–1987) was a British writer who spent much of his life in Spain. He is best known for "The Spanish Labyrinth", a work of history on the background to the Spanish Civil War, and for "". He was awarded a CBE in 1982, and was much honoured in Spain.


He was born in Malta into a well-off Anglo-Irish family, while his father was serving there in the British Army. He was educated at Radley, a boarding school in England, which he hated due to the bullying he endured. His autographical works make it clear that he did not enjoy a good relationship with his father.

At the age of 18, and to spite his father who wanted him to train at Sandhurst, he set off with an older friend, the occasional photographer and eccentric, John Hope-Johnstone, to walk to China. Between August 1912 and January 1913 they walked 1,560 miles, reaching Bosnia before lack of money made them turn back. He spent the next 10 months in Germany learning the language, surprisingly in preparation for joining the Indian Police Service. This plan was interrupted by the outbreak of World War I. He immediately joined the British Army and served in France throughout the war. After the war John Hope-Johnstone introduced him to the Bloomsbury Group.

In 1919 he settled in Spain, in the small village of Yegen, in the Alpujarras district of the province of Granada. He spent his time catching up on the education which he felt he had missed by not attending university, and in writing. An important factor in his moving to Spain was his calculation that his small income would go further there. Despite the remoteness of his new home, contacts with Bloomsbury continued, particularly with Dora Carrington, who was the wife of his best friend Ralph Partridge, and with whom he had an intense, and intermittently sexual, relationship from 1919 to 1928 Fact|date=June 2007.

In Dorset in 1930 he met the American poet and novelist Gamel Woolsey (1895–1968); they married in Rome in 1931. During the Spanish Civil War and for many years afterwards they lived in Aldbourne in Wiltshire. Brenan was permitted to return to Spain in 1953 despite holding views which were critical of Franco´s regime. He spent most of the remainder of his life in Alhaurín el Grande, Málaga. In 1984 he was moved in controversial circumstances to a nursing home in Pinner, but he returned to Spain after the authorities there made special arrangements to provide him with the nursing care on which he depended.


*"Jack Robinson. A Picaresque Novel" (1933) as George Beaton
*"Doctor Partridge's Almanack for 1935" (1934) as George Beaton
*"Shanahan's Old Shebeen, or The Mornin's Mornin"' (1940)
*"The Spanish Labyrinth: An Account of the Social and Political Background of the Civil War" (1943)
*"The Spanish Scene" (1946) Current Affairs No.7
*"The Face of Spain" (1951)
*"The Literature of the Spanish People - From Roman Times To The Present Day" (1951)
*"South From Granada: Seven Years in an Andalusian Village" (1957)
*"A Holiday by the Sea" (1961)
*"A Life of One's Own: Childhood and Youth" (1962)
*"The Lighthouse Always Says Yes" (1966)
*"St John of the Cross: His life and Poetry" (1973) with Lynda Nicholson
*"A Personal Record, 1920-1972" (1975)
*"The Magnetic Moment; Poems" (1978)
*"Thoughts in a Dry Season: A Miscellany" (1978)


*"Carrington" (1995), about the life of the artist Dora Carrington, included an account of her trip to Spain to visit Gerald Brenan (played by Samuel West).
*"South From Granada" was filmed by Fernando Colomo as "Al sur de Granada" (2003), starring Matthew Goode as Brenan. It was nominated for eleven Goya Awards and won one.

External links

* [ Biographical notes and selected reading]
* [ The Writer Gerald Brenan]
*es icon [ Biography of Brenan]
* [ Gerald Brenan Collection] at the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas at Austin


*Xan Fielding editor (1986), "Best of Friends. The Brenan–Partridge Letters" (correspondence with Partridge)
*Jonathan Gathorne-Hardy (1994) "The Life of Gerald Brenan"

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