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Marcial Antonio Lafuente Estefanía (born 1903 in Toledo, Castilla-La Mancha – August 7, 1984 in Madrid) was a popular Spanish writer of some 2,600 novels from the West, considered the maximum representative of the gender in Spain. In addition to publishing as M. L. Estefanía , used pseudonyms such as Tony Spring , Arizona , Dan Lewis or Dan Luce and to sign pink novels María Luisa Beorlegui and Cecilia de Iraluce . The novels published under his name have been written, either by him, or by his children, Francisco or Federico, or by his grandson Federico, so today it is possible to find “unpublished” novels by Marcial Lafuente Estefanía.
Marcial Antonio Lafuente Estefanía was born in 1903 in Toledo, Castilla-La Mancha, Spain, son of the lawyer, journalist and writer Federico Lafuente López-Elías, who had among his works a The Ballads of Don Quixote (1916). Federico taught his son to love the classical theater of the Golden Age, which he got to know very well; However, Marcial wanted to study industrial engineering, and he worked in Spain, Africa and America. Between 1928 and 1931 he toured much of the United States, which then served to acclimate his stories, whose details of atmosphere and location are rigorously accurate.
He married Maria Luisa Beorlegui Carril, and had two children with her, Francisco María Lafuente Beorlegui and Federico María Lafuente Beorlegui, who collaborated in the literary production of his father. The couple lived in Madrid, but Marcial was in love with Arenas de San Pedro (Ávila), where he lived for a long time and where his wife died on July 28, 1975, at 71 years of age. He died of pneumonia at 81, on August 7, 1984 in Madrid, and was buried in the cemetery of Arenas, the city he loved so much, where you can see the niche where his remains rest.
During the Spanish Civil War he became general of Artillery of the Republican Army in the Toledo front and after it decided not to go into exile, so he suffered jail in Spain several times. It was in prison where he began to write conscientiously, taking advantage of pieces of paper he got here and there.
I started practically writing on a roll of toilet paper. It had no pages, it had no pen; Then I decided to use the pencil and the toilet paper. I was in a fifth room of one of the hotels in which the government detained me.
During the war, writer and playwright Enrique Jardiel Poncela had given him advice: “Write so that people have fun, it’s the only way to make money with this.” That was the foundation of his way of writing; from the beginning he sought out the amenity, dispensed with the long descriptions and worked mostly on the dialogues, with some very characteristic idioms and a triggered action.
Literary career start
After leaving in freedom, and without being able to practice as an engineer, he began to publish in Cíes, a small Vigo publishing house, police or romantic works. His first novels were signed under the pseudonyms of “Tony Spring” or “Arizona”, the romantics under the name of his wife, “Maria Luisa Beorlegui” and “Cecilia de Iraluce”, although he also used other pseudonyms such as “Dan Luce” and “Dan Lewis.” Then he began to publish already western novels with the initials ML Estefanía -which some confused with María Luisa- or with his name Marcial Lafuente Estefanía, in Editorial Bruguera, of which he was one of the principal active along with another popular novelist, Corín Tellado, and the different comic publications.
The Western novel
Wrote his first novel of the west in 1943, with the title of the mascot of the prairie (Ediciones Maisal: Biblioteca Aventuras, núm.78), and signed a contract with Editorial Bruguera that would take him to produce about 2,600 novelitas in a leaflet format of no more than one hundred pages. To compose them sometimes he was inspired by the classic Spanish theater of the Golden Age, replacing the characters of the XVII by the representative archetypes of the west. These violent stories flooded Spain and Latin America and became very popular as a pastime literature even in the United States, where the University of Texas recorded them so that blind people of Hispanic origin could hear them. Knowing that his novels were read in the United States, he took great care of the historical, geographical and botanical verisimilitude of the American West, for which he resorted to three books in particular: a very complete work of United States history, a very old atlas of this country, where the towns of the time of the conquest of the West appeared, and a American telephone directory in which he found the names of his characters.
The western novel, as configured by Estefanía, the main representative of the genre, consisted of about 100 pages of cheap and very characteristic printing, similar to the American pulp; one was written and published per week and sold hard (five pesetas) each, and later, with the devaluation, twenty-five pesetas. Sometimes it was enough to buy one and, after being read, it could be returned to the newsagent to, at a lower price, get another one. In this way, the rolls were deceptive, because although they were very large and cheap, the same novel could be read by several dozen people. The works of Estefanía reached continuous reediciones of 30,000 units.
Since 1958, his two sons Francisco and Federico began to collaborate with his father in the writing of his novels, writing them indiscriminately under the generic name of the father and, after the death of Federico, also his grandson Federico has continued his legacy. So prolific is the family feather that, to date -and still under the Mexican label of Bruguera-, his work of western genre continues in circulation throughout Latin America and the United States thus providing entertainment for several generations of readers.
Already quite old, the veteran writer tried unsuccessfully to publish a serious novel, El hexficio de Toledo, the fruit of his remarkable historical knowledge of his native city.
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