Nobel Prize Recipient. José Echegaray received world-wide recognition, as a Spaniard, for sharing the 1904 Nobel Prize for Literature in “recognition of the numerous and brilliant compositions which, in an individual and original manner, have revived the great traditions of the Spanish drama." He was the first Spaniard to receive this covet award. He shared his 1904 Nobel Prize with French poet Frédéric Mistra. Born José Echegaray y Eizaguirre, he was the son of a Greek professor. He attended local schools in Murcia before engineering schools, studying economics, and landing a successful career in the Spanish Government, becoming the Minister of Public Works and Finance Minister by 1874. He played a major role in developing the Banco de Espana or the National Bank of Spain. He had developed a passion for the stage in his youth, and while being successful in government, he left that career for a career in the theater. At the age of 42, his first production was the 1874 play, “The Checkbook.” Using his talents in mathematics and engineering, he wrote his plays with the same regard as he used in his government career. Conflicts involving duty and romance were at the heart of most of his plays, and he upheld the idea with uncompromising severity. Often one of the lovers in his play would die at the conclusion. Like many in the Spanish Golden Age, he was a prolific playwright, authoring at least sixty plays. His most famous plays were: “ The Avenger's Wife” in 1874; “ In the Fist of the Sword” in 1875; “The Stake and the Cross” in 1878, which was a play defending the freedom of thought that aroused much controversy; “Conflict of Duty” in 1882 , which is considered the most problematic piece of Echegaray’s entire work; “Madman or Saint” in 1877; and “Great Galeoto” in 1881. In the 21st century, he is almost forgotten but was tremendously popular with his imagination and stage effects in his era, thus he did much to revolutionize the Spanish theatrical stage.
Bio by: Linda Davis