Cementerio de la Almudena Madrid, Provincia de Madrid, Madrid, Spain
Carmen de Burgos y Seguí (pseudonyms, Colombine, Gabriel Luna, Perico el de los Palotes, Raquel, Honorine and Marianela; December 10, 1867 – October 9, 1932) was a Spanish journalist, writer, translator and women's rights activist. Johnson describes her as a "modern" if not "modernist" writer. The Second Republic would usher in a period where women had more rights under the law, and where women were politically empowered for the first time. Homosexuality was also stripped from the penal code, though there were still ways for which lesbians could be charged, for example by being deemed dangerous to the state, or simply being detained by the state even if their behavior was not criminal. Prominent lesbians of this period included Lucía Sánchez Saornil, América Barroso, Margarita Xirgu, Irene Polo, Carmen de Burgos, María de Maeztu, Victoria Kent and Victoria Ocampo.
She was born in 1867 in Almeria to a middle-class family, in which her father owned a gold mine. Her father José de Burgos Cañizares and her uncle Ferdinand were in charge of the vice-consulate of Portugal in Almeria. Her mother, Nicosia Segui Nieto, had come to the marriage with a substantial inheritance.
Portrait by Julio Romero de Torres in 1917
She escaped her family when she met Arturo Asterz Bustos. He was fifteen years older than her; he was a poet, writer, and an alcoholic. Her new husband earned money as a typesetter on the family's newspaper, but she quickly discovered that this was to be her work. She and Arturo were unhappily married for 17 years, having four children - of whom only one survived. In 1898 her infant son died and she enrolled at the local college to obtain a teaching certificate. She quickly advanced, and within a year she was qualified to teach primary. By the end of 1898, she was qualified to teach secondary school and by 1900 she was qualified to teach teachers. Armed with her new achievements, she could anticipate employment for life. She and her remaining daughter left her abusive and unfaithful husband and they set up their own house in Guadalajara where her first book was written. During this time she had learnt how to write for a living, she had earned her independence and she had developed a contempt for the institution of marriage. Burgos regarded herself as a feminist but her gender meant that her writings were not included when evaluations were made of Spanish (male) modernism. However Burgos was nominally creating a number of novels for the "weekly novel" market that was popular at the start of the twentieth century. Burgos's novels however dealt with legal and political themes. Her novels dealt with taboo subjects including male and female homosexuality and transvestism. She highlighted the dual values applied that blamed women who were adulterers whereas men's involvement was forgiven. Women were given responsibility for illegitimate children and the law overlooked the abuse that some women found within their marriages. It has been noted that Burgos raised controversial subjects concerning gender, the law and rights but her writing did not offer a solution. She exposed to the readers the disparity between traditional values of female education and modern life. Burgos however exposed difficult issues as a dramatic event and in 1904 she had led a campaign to improve the availability of divorce.
In 1906, Burgos became the first professional journalist in Spain in the capacity as editor of Madrid's Diario Universal. She served as the first president of the International League of Iberian and Latin American Women (Liga Internacional de Mujeres Ibéricas e Hispanoamericanas). During the dictatorship of General Franco Burgos was written out of the history books in Spain. Following the restoration of democracy she was again recognised and replaced into the history of women's rights in Spain.
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