Gustavo Adolfo Becquer (1836-1870) was born in Seville. A great number of his relatives were painters. His father, Jose Dominguez Becquer, died when Gustavo was five. His mother, when he was eleven.
Before the age of fourteen he was close to his brother Valeriano and to a circle of friends that he would keep many years later, especially Narciso Campillo... They were interested in all kinds of art: painting, poetry, music...
In spite of his godmother's will, he traveled to Madrid in 1854. There he made several attempts at painting, such as the unfinished History of Spanish Temples. He wrote plays and zarzuela -minor opera-, by himself or with other friends. He undertook all kind of writings in order to survive in a poor and nocturnal Madrid. In 1858, he contracted a serious, although not well known illness.
He traveled to Soria and Veruela to get himself back to good health. There he found stillness, a doctor and a wife, Casta Esteban. The marriage was unhappy from the beginning in 1861. At this time, the poet wrote his best pieces: prose fiction and some poems in magazines such as El Contemporáneo. In 1868 he produced an edition of them, bought by the minister Gonzalez Bravo. The plundering of Bravo´s house during the Revolution, resulted in the loss of these manuscript poems.
From 1868, Gustavo settled in Toledo with his brother Valeriano. Both were divorced from their wives and kept some of their children. The poet became editor of La Illustration de Madrid and rewrote his own lost
poems from memory. This new text was called Book of Sparrows and was not widely known until 1914. Valeriano's death in September 1870 accelerated Gustavo's one three months later.
On December, 23 -one day after his burial- his friends joined together in order to publish his work as a way for helping his widow and his three sons. These works got a foreword by his friend Ramon Rodriguez Correa and appeared in two volumes in 1871.