Much has been made of the influence of Gabriel García Márquez’s family on his work – especially Love in the Time of Cholera. He has spoken extensively about his grandmother, his grandfather, their faith, their stories and their love. Most importantly, what this love meant to Gabriel and subsequently, his writing.
Gabriel García Márquez was a Colombian Nobel Prize-winning author who was born on March 6th 1927, in the town of Aracataca, Colombia. García Márquez’s grandfather, Colonel Nicolás Márquez Mejía, was a key figure in Colombia’s civil wars of the late 19th century. His exploits and legendary status in the family were a source of inspiration for many of García Márquez’s works, particularly the novel One Hundred Years of Solitude. Marquez remembers his wise, successful and practical grandfather with nothing but respect and affection. But it was his grandmother, Doña Tranquilina Iguarán, who really alit the young Márquez with her superstitions, potions, stories and prayers. She taught Gabriel a way to live that was a long way away from the strict rigours of practical life.
Gabriel García Márquez – © L.M. Palomares – Agencia Literaria Carmen Balcells
García Márquez’s parents, Gabriel Eligio García and Luisa Santiaga Márquez Iguarán, were both from prominent families in the region. His father was a pharmacist and his mother was a homemaker. However, they struggled financially and were forced to move frequently throughout García Márquez’s childhood. Often, García was left behind to be raised in the stability of his grandparents’ home and it was there that these relationships flourished.
Gabriel García Márquez with his wife and muse Mercedes – From the author’s personal archive, courtesy of Agencia Literaria Carmen Balcells
García Márquez’s upbringing was marked by the turbulence and violence of Colombia’s political landscape. His family was forced to flee their home during the ‘Thousand Days War’, a civil conflict that lasted from 1899 to 1902, and his father was once imprisoned for his political activities. Unsurprisingly, these experiences deeply influenced García Márquez’s worldview. As a consequence, many of his works deal with themes of political upheaval, social injustice, and the struggle for survival.
Who knows what creates a genius, but Gabriel García Márquez went on to become one of the most celebrated writers of the 20th century. His works have had a profound impact on literature and his loyal and adoring readership continues to grow and flourish with each passing year.