José Echegaray y Eizaguirre
The Nobel Prize in Literature 1904
Born: 19 April 1832, Madrid, Spain
Died: 4 September 1916, Madrid, Spain
Residence at the time of the award: Spain
Prize motivation: “in recognition of the numerous and brilliant compositions which, in an individual and original manner, have revived the great traditions of the Spanish drama”
Prize share: 1/2
José Echegaray was born in Madrid, Spain. He went to an engineering school, where he studied economics and mathematics. At the age of 20, he attained a civil engineering degree and went on to work as a professor teaching mathematics, geometry and physical calculus, among other things. Later in life he also had a distinguished career in the Spanish government. He served successively as Minister of Public Works and Finance Minister. In addition to his literary career, he published several works on mathematics and physics.
José Echegaray’s literary debut took place relatively late, in 1874 when he was 42 years old. He subsequently had a productive career, publishing an average of two plays a year for the rest of his life. A mathematician, engineer and administrator, he built his plays with the same regard for exactitude and duty that inspired his public life. Conflicts involving duty are at the heart of most of his plays, and he upheld the idea with uncompromising severity. His exalted romanticism is apparent in his choice of subjects.