Emilia Pardo Bazan (1852–1921)


Go to Culture and Context for an overview of Europe, or go to LitQuiz for quizzes on Bazan's The Revolver and The Oldest Story.



Born in Galicia, Spain, Emilia Pardo Bazan (1852–1921) was the only child in a well–to–do family. After a private education, she continued her studies at a fashionable French school in Madrid, where she began her lifelong involvement with France and its literature. Although her parents forbade her from reading the works of the French Romantics, she was nevertheless drawn to Georges Sand, Alexander Dumas, and Victor Hugo. At age sixteen, Pardo Bazan entered into an arranged marriage with José Quiroga, a law student. The couple traveled throughout Europe with Pardo Bazan's parents between 1871 and 1874 and had three children after their return to Spain. They were separated in 1885, reportedly because of the controversy surrounding Pardo Bazan's writings.

Pardo Bazan was a prolific author of novels, short stories, essays, and criticism. She scandalized the conservative Spain of her time by her involvement with both naturalism and feminism (though she dubbed herself a realist). Her first novel was Pascual Lopez (1879), and by 1883, when she published The Woman Orator, she had become a subject of controversy. Like Emile Zola, she wrote about common people whose lives seem to be biologically determined, but in her critical work, The Burning Question (1883), she rejected the pessimism and determinism of the French naturalists. Her later novels were influenced by Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, and Ivan Turgenev. Her last three novels—The Chimera (1905), The Black Siren (1908), and Sweet Master (1911)—deal with the psychology of religious experience. The king of Spain named her a countess shortly before her death in 1921, thereby gratifying her lifelong desire for an aristocratic title.



Reading Group Choices: Selections for Lively Discussion
At this site, Pardo Bazan's novel Torn Lace and Other Stories is recommended for group discussion. In addition to a brief biography of the writer and a summary of the book, this site provides a number of provocative and useful questions.

Portrait Gallery
Pardo Bazan is a national treasure in Spain. This site shows her portrait on a Spanish coin.

Hispanos Famosos
This "Famous Hispanics" site provides brief background information on Pardo Bazan.