Brenan, Gerald

Alternative names
Birth 1894-04-07
Death 1987-01-19

Biographical notes:

English writer.

From the description of Gerald Brenan Collection, 1911-1978. (Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center (HRC); University of Texas at Austin). WorldCat record id: 122602036

Edward Fitzgerald Brenan (1894-1987), was born in Malta, the son of an English army officer. He spent his earliest years in India and South Africa before being sent to England for his formal education. He studied first at Radley College and then at the Military Academy at Sandhurst, but studied art, poetry, and philosophy on his own with the help of John Hope-Johnstone. With Hope-Johnstone, Brenan traveled through France, Italy, and Dalmatia when he was eighteen, before joining the 5th Gloucesters in 1914. With his regiment he saw action in the Ypres salient, on the Somme, and in the second battle of the Marne. In 1918 he was awarded the Military Cross and the Croix de Guerre.

In 1919 Brenan was introduced into the Bloomsbury group by Hope-Johnstone and his fellow officer and friend, Ralph Partridge. It was through Partridge that Brenan met Lytton Strachey and Dora Carrington. In the fall of 1919, Brenan set out for Spain, settling in the primitive village of Yegen, living there more-or-less continuously until 1934. Partridge and Carrington, recently married, and Strachey visited him in 1920, and Carrington's fondness for Brenan is thought to have started on this trip. She carried on a voluminous correspondence with Brenan for the next several years and in 1922 they had a brief affair, which was soon discovered by Partridge. There was a year of silence between the three, before reconciliation took place and an often stormy friendship continued for the remainder of their lives.

Brenan remained in Spain, marrying the American poetess Gamel Woolsey in 1930, and working on poetry and beginning several novels. In 1934 the Brenans left Yegen for Churriana and then for Gibraltar, seven weeks after the civil war started. They were unable to return to Spain until 1953. They spent this time in Aldbourne and Brenan expressed his feelings of exile from Spain by completing three major works on Spanish life and literature. On his return to Spain he began a series of autobiographical works, including South from Granada, A Life of One's Own, and A Personal Record.

In 1969 Brenan moved to the mountain village of Alhaurin el Grande. He was awarded the Order of Commander of the British Empire in 1982 and in 1984, after a brief stint in a nursing home, he was declared a living monument of Spain and was supported by the municipality of Alhaurin until his death in January 1987.

From the guide to the Gerald Brenan Collection TXRC98-A15., 1911-1978, (Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center, University of Texas at Austin)


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Constellation Information

Ark ID:


  • Spain--Social life and customs
  • Bloombury group
  • Bloomsbury group
  • Spain--Politics and government
  • Spain--Civil war
  • Authors, English--20th century


not available for this record


  • Spain (as recorded)