Collection CHC0353 - Eva Canel Collection

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Eva Canel Collection


  • 1924-1991 (Creation)
  • 1924-1927 (Creation)


1 Box

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Biographical history

Eva Canel (January 30th, 1857; Coaña, Asturias, Spain - May 2nd, 1932; Havana, Cuba) was a Spanish playwright, novelist, and one of the first female Hispanic journalists. She was a prolific writer and speaker and largely addressed political and feminist topics - she was specifically vocal on matters concerning marriage, the breakdown of customs, divorce, adultery, and incestuous relationships. Canel published many notable works including the novels: Trapitos al sol (1891); Manolín (1891); La pola (1893); Oremus (1893); and El agua turbia (1899), as well as several works of theater, including La mulata (1893) and El indiano (1894), which both concerned matters of race, and Fuera de la ley (1902) and La Abuelita (1905). She also often wrote in mixed literary forms, blending travel narratives, journalistic writing, and the autobiographical. Canel has contemporarily been described as “very daring for a woman of the era” in terms of the way she lived her life and the subjects she wrote about (Vallejo 107).

Agar Eva Infanzón Canel, whose pen name would become Eva Canel, was born to a fairly privileged family. At age three, her father, who was a doctor, was killed and she moved to Madrid with her mother. In Madrid, while trying to forge a career as an actress, she met and married actor and author Eloy Perillán Bux at age fourteen, and later had her only son: Eloy. In 1874, Canel’s husband was forced to leave Spain because he was attracting attention for his subversive writings and she leaped in to assume his editorial responsibilities for the satirical magazine, La Broma. Shortly thereafter, Canel joined her husband and traveled the theater circuit with him, living in Argentina, Uruguay, Chile, Bolivia, and Peru – all the while writing, publishing, and even founding newspapers. In 1881, due to political upheaval in multiple South American counties, the couple decided to return to Spain and settled in Barcelona. Canel’s husband, however, soon became unsettled in Barcelona and their perpetually rocky marriage finally led him to settle in Cuba, where he died in 1889. She, too, left for Cuba shortly after the death of her husband.

Once in Cuba, Canel tried to find journalistic work but was refused job opportunities because of her gender; therefore, she founded her own weekly magazine – political satire in genre – called La Cotorra. After a period of eight years, during which time the Cuban War of Independence ended, she left Cuba for Spain and then on to Buenos Aires, where her literary peak began. Canel’s strong beliefs were reflected in her literary works; she was a Catholic traditionalist, monarchist, and all-around conservative, who ardently defended Spanish colonial power in Cuba and the Americas more broadly. One of the many paradoxical things about her is that she did not believe in divorce and felt that women should be subservient and occupy domestic roles, yet her life as an independent, outspoken woman who traveled widely while writing freely and supporting herself is in complete contention with the views she expressed in print. Vallejo explains that her relative obscurity in comparison to her sheer volume of literary production is in part due the unconventional way she lived for a woman of her era: “Eva Canel’s omission from serious critical study is compounded by the fact that she lived in many different places and wrote under several different pseudonyms; thus, she has not been recognized as any “national” writer—a circumstance that is hugely ironic, as she was a lifelong, proud Spanish nationalist and conservative monarchist” (107-108).

By the last few years of her life, Canel had established herself as a defender of Spanish interests and was called upon to hold conferences and give speeches on such themes. In 1914, while travelling around Central America to deliver speeches, her health began to suffer greatly. Invited by a former friend, she decided to return once again to Cuba where she lived until her death on May 2, 1932. Canel recorded the details of her extraordinary life in two memoirs: Por la justicia y por España (1909) and Lo que vi en Cuba (1916).

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The papers document professional activities of Spanish playwright Eva Canel.  The materials include correspondence, photocopies of various biographies of Eva Canel and articles about her, newspaper clippings, and theater programs.

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There are no access restrictions.

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© 2009 University of Miami.  Requests to reproduce or publish materials from this collection should be directed to

Languages of the material

  • English
  • Spanish

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Acquired from Librería de Antaño in 1993.

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Rights Statement: The text of this webpage is available for modification and reuse under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License and the GNU Free Documentation License (unversioned, with no invariant sections, front-cover texts, or back-cover texts).

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