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Americans Writers in Spain by Marilyn Baron

One thing that surprised me on my trip to Spain was learning about all of the American cultural influences—the artists, writers, even an American bullfighter, who visited, lived, wrote in and wrote about, Spain. American writers have a long literary tradition in that country. Since I’m a writer and a reader, I found those connections fascinating. Here are a just a few examples: •

Many writers and poets lived in Ronda (which means place surrounded by mountains). Ronda was the oldest summer court. It boasts the best weather for asthma and tuberculosis, and beautiful summer homes with patios and gardens.

Ernest Hemingway and Orson Welles spent many summers in Rondaand wrote about its beauty and its bullfighting traditions. Orson Welles said he was inspired by his frequent trips to Spain and Ronda (e.g. his unfinished film about Don Quixote). After he died in 1985, his ashes were buried in a well located on the property of his friend, retired bullfighter Antonio Ordoñez, outside of Ronda, a city that has named a street close to the famed bullring of Ronda, The Paseo de Orson Welles.

 • Hemmingway wrote “For Whom The Bell Tolls,” based on his experiences in the Spanish Civil War. The famous scene in Chapter 10 describing the 1936 execution of Fascist sympathizers in a (fictional) village who are thrown off a cliff, is considered to be modeled on actual events at the time in Ronda.

• “The Sun Also Rises,” is a 1926 novel written by Hemmingway about a group of American and British expatriates who travel from Paris to the Festival of San Fermín in Pamplona to watching the running of the bulls and the bullfights. In his non-fiction book, “Death in the Afternoon,” Hemingway writes about the ceremony and traditions of Spanish bullfighting.

 • The American bullfighter and painter, John Fulton, is recognized in Spain in Ronda, where he trained as a bullfighter.

 • Ava Gardner had a romance with Dominguin, a leading bullfighter in the 1940’s and 50’s who was a close friend of Picasso, and a dueling matador featured by Ernest Hemingway in “The Dangerous Summer.”

 • American painter John Singer Sargent painted in Ronda and his masterpieces El Jaleo (1882) and La Carmencita (1890) were inspired by his love of Spanish music and dance.

• Washington Irving briefly resided in the palace Alhambra, which inspired his book “Tales of the Alhambra,” and several histories of 15th-centruy Spain. There is a plaque dedicated to Washington Irving inside The Alhambra.

 • Iberia, written by James Michener, who first visited Spain in 1932, is his personal travelogue of his impressions of many travels all over Spain. Georgia

Author Marilyn Baron writes humorous women’s fiction, humorous paranormal short stories and romantic suspense. Her latest release, Dead Mix was released at the end of July from TWB Press at To read more about “The Edger,” visit her blog at Petit Fours and Hot Tamales at; for her angel stories visit TWB Press at: Find her on Facebook at!/pages/Marilyn-Baron/286807714666748. Her next book, “Under the Moon Gate,” a romantic thriller set in contemporary and WW II Bermuda, will be released from The Wild Rose Press in spring 2013.

Mary Preston - September 28, 2012 - 4:26 am

I’ve always enjoyed James Micheners’ books.

I can see how inspirational Spain could be.

Marilyn Baron - September 28, 2012 - 6:09 am

Thanks very much for your comment. Iberia is probably the only Michener novel I haven’t read, but it’s now on my list. :chic:

Nancy - September 28, 2012 - 7:25 am

Interesting post, Marilyn.

Marilyn Baron - September 28, 2012 - 7:35 am

Thanks, Nancy.

Pam Asberry - September 28, 2012 - 8:39 am

Just ANOTHER reason why I need to visit Spain. ;-) Thanks for all the great info, Marilyn. I have really enjoyed your travel posts!

Marilyn Baron - September 28, 2012 - 9:26 am

Thank you Pam. I’m glad you enjoyed the posts.

Terry Wright - September 28, 2012 - 10:28 am

Fascinating information, Marilyn. Your trip to Spain must’ve felt like walking in the footsteps of greatness. I assume you took the pictures.

Marilyn Baron - September 28, 2012 - 10:37 am


Thanks for visiting the blog. I did feel exactly that way. I was just amazed at all the famous writers who found inspiration in Spain. I did take the pictures.

Linsey Lanier - September 28, 2012 - 1:33 pm

Ronda sounds like a magical place. Your descriptions of its literary history gave me goosebumps, Marilyn. It’s great to feel a part of the body of writers, even though I’ll never achieve the status of Hemingway. :yes:

Debby Giusti - September 28, 2012 - 3:28 pm

Fascinating post, Marilyn, packed with information I didn’t know. Interesting about the draw Spain has on writers. No wonder you enjoyed your trip! All the literary tradition.

I remember doing a report on “For Whom the Bell Tolls” in high school. I need to dust off my copy of his book and read it again. Hemingway got around, didn’t he? Including Key West, another place I’d like to go.

I loved Michener, and like you, I read all his books…except Iberia. Another title for my To-Be-Read list!

Carol Burnside - September 28, 2012 - 4:02 pm

I agree with Pam – another reason to re-visit Spain. Great trivia, Marilyn. I learned something. :)

Marilyn Baron - September 28, 2012 - 4:28 pm


Ronda was magical and I can understand why people were so attracted to the place. You never know what you will achieve, maybe one day they will have a Linsey Lanier plaque somewhere.

Marilyn Baron - September 28, 2012 - 4:30 pm


I’m glad you enjoyed the post. I can’t believe how much Hemmingway got around. I just saw a movie about Hemmingway recently and I had no idea all the things he did. Thanks for taking time to read my post.

Marilyn Baron - September 28, 2012 - 4:31 pm


Glad you learned something from the post. Thanks for commenting. I really learned a lot on my trip.

Sia Huff - September 28, 2012 - 5:18 pm

I loved learning about how Spain inspired writers. I knew about Hemingway but not the others. I never would have guessed Washington Irving had a plaque there. Very cool.
Maybe we could all go and rent a villa and get inspired too. I can dream, can I?

Marilyn Baron - September 28, 2012 - 5:19 pm

Renting a villa in Spain sounds wonderful. I couldn’t believe as I walked down the streets in a variety of cities, how many plaques there were to writers. That’s why I was inspired to write the post.

Mary Marvella - September 29, 2012 - 6:20 pm

Excellent post! I want to go to Spain, for research, of course.

Marilyn Baron - September 30, 2012 - 6:17 am

Now I’ll have to set a book in Spain.

Beci - September 30, 2012 - 2:07 pm

Fascinating to read about the American artist with ties to Spain! Reading your Spain blogs brought back great travel memories when we visited about 7 yrs. ago. I agree that Spain rates right up there with Italy for food, culture and wonderful travel experiences.

Marilyn Baron - October 3, 2012 - 3:39 pm

Thanks, Beci.You have traveled all over, so you would know. I really enjoyed the trip.

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