Postcard from... Madrid


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The Independent Online

It has taken a decade of negotiations, but the building that inspired Spain’s greatest 20th century poet and playwright, Federico García Lorca, to write one of his best-known plays The House of Bernarda Alba is soon to  become a museum.

Living next door in the village of Valderrubio in rural Andalusia, Lorca was apparently inspired to write Bernarda Alba – about a matriarch who rules her five daughters’ isolated, claustrophic lives with an iron fist – from conversations he heard drifting over from his neighbour’s backyard.

Negotiations to buy the property, originally belonging to one Frasquita Alba but with eight different co-inheritors, had dragged on for 10 years – during which time the house partly collapsed. But last week it was purchased by a public trust, for €177,000, €50,000 of which are earmarked for its restoration.

Born in another nearby village, Fuente Vaqueros, in 1898, Garcia Lorca’s original home is already a museum. But Valderrubio, where Lorca’s family moved when he was aged five, is arguably even more important in his personal history.

Events or locations in Valderrubio crop up in plays as well-known as Blood Wedding and Yerma [Barren] – the latter partly inspired by conversations about fertility between local women as they washed laundry at a public fountain. And had not Lorca been murdered by General Franco’s death squads in August 1936, two months after completing The House of Bernarda Alba, perhaps even more of Valderrubio would have featured in his work.