The Nobel Prize in Literature 1922
Born: 12 August 1866, Madrid, Spain
Died: 14 July 1954, Madrid, Spain
Residence at the time of the award: Spain
Prize motivation: "for the happy manner in which he has continued the illustrious traditions of the Spanish drama."
Prize share: 1/1
Jacinto Benavente was the son of a well-known pediatrician. When his father died, leaving him a large inheritance, Benavente discontinued his law studies and traveled in France, England and Russia. After returning to Spain, he worked as an editor and writer for several newspapers and magazines. He made his debut as a poet in 1893 with Cartas de Mujeres (Women’s Letters), and most of his 172 published works are plays. Benavente’s convictions as a monarchist caused him, despite some doubts, to support Spanish dictator Franco’s regime.
As a playwright Benavente distinguished himself in his day by allowing dramatic effects and aesthetics to make way for a credible portrayal of life outside the theater. He strove for a realistic portrayal of life, and most of his plays are comedies in the sense that they are plays with a happy ending. His plays were set in Madrid or the fictional small town of Moraleda in which mainly upper-class settings were depicted along with other groups of society, often with a humorous and satirical tone.