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Isabel Garcia Lorca (Granada, October 11, 1909 – Madrid, January 9, 2002) was a Spanish teacher and writer. Federico García Lorca’s little sister, dedicated a great part of her life to the recovery of the legacy and the image of the poet, at the head of the Foundation that bears her name.
Isabel was born in Granada, in the old number 66 of the Acera del Darro, family home of the García Lorca until 1916, “full of rumors of water” and, from whose windows the girl watched with amazement the slow walk of the turtles in the back garden or throwing all kinds of objects to the sidewalk on the riverbank (until that day when he threw the bunch of keys to the farm and gave it to a passerby).
Lesser sister of Federico, Concha and Francisco García Lorca, at the age of eight, began her education with Gloria Giner, a teacher at the Escuela Normal Superior de Maestras, wife of Fernando de los Ríos, who organized the education of her daughter Laura de los Ríos. Ríos Giner and Isabel García Lorca, in order to separate them from teaching in Granada at that time. Among the events of her happy childhood, Isabel remembers in her memoirs with special attention the theatrical party that took place in the Lorca’s house on January 6, 1923, the feast of the Magi, with Federico and Adolfo Salazar as masters of ceremonies, Manuel de Falla as a musical director and a friend of the family, Hermenegildo Lanz, as set designer, sculptor and puppeteer of the theater. Isabelita and Laura (daughter of Fernando de los Ríos and inseparable friend throughout her life), dazzled by the group of wizards, also officiated as choral performers.In the program of the pieces that were represented there was a hors d’oeuvre attributed to Cervantes ; the Auto of the Magi, with musical transcriptions of Falla, sitting at the piano; and a ‘lorquiana’ adaptation for blackjack puppets of the Andalusian story “The girl who waters the basil and the inquisitive prince”.
At the age of 21, she began her university studies at the Faculty of Philosophy and Literature of Granada in the 1930-1931 academic year until she moved to Madrid, where she also studied Philosophy and Literature and was a student of other 27 poets such as Jorge. Guillén and Pedro Salinas.
Almost newly arrived in Madrid, the student Isabel had the opportunity to participate in the university cruise through the Mediterranean of 1933, organized by Manuel García Morente and seconded by Fernando de los Ríos, following “institutionalist” guidelines.
In the Spanish capital, besides graduating and working as a literature teacher at the Instituto Escuela, Isabel participated with Eduardo Ugarte and Federico in La Barraca, a traveling theater university group organized at the beginning of the Second Republic, and in a complementary way to the Theater of the Pedagogical Missions town. His collaboration with the “barracks” was reduced to being part of the choir in Calderón de la Barca’s car La vida es sueño, which the “barraqueros” took to Murcia and Alicante.
Another episode -this of a very different sign- lived during his first stay in Madrid, happened when, refugee at Bernardo Giner’s house, the telephone rang, and Isabel, who answered the call, heard a woman’s voice asking for the Giner’s wife, to which she replied that she was in bed and could not get in but that she could take the message. The voice added then: “Tell him only that it is true, that Federico García Lorca has been killed in Granada”.
In September 1936, Isabel moved to Brussels, where she lived with her brother Paco (member of the Spanish embassy in the Belgian capital) for just over a year and a half, until her “exile” – as she preferred to call it – definitive to the United States.
New York (1938-1951)
In New York she was welcomed by the Ríos family, still the ambassador of the former republican minister, and whose daughter, Laura, would marry her brother Paco in 1942. Gathered in 1940 the rest of the surviving family (parents and his sister Concha y hijos, widow of Manuel Fernández Montesinos, republican mayor of Granada, shot two days before Federico), remained in exile until 1951.
In the United States, Isabel continued her teaching activity at New Jersey College for Women, Hunter College in New York, and later at Sarah Lawrence College, where she became friends with Marguerite Yourcenar, one of the first researchers in the death of Federico García Lorca at the scene.
Return to Spain
He returned from exile in 1951, but settled in Madrid, where he began working in a private school. In 1954, he lived very emotional moments when he visited, after an absence of twenty years, the town of La Vega de Granada in which the summers of his childhood passed. It was an intense, magical, silent walk (the people of the place left their houses to touch her or kiss her, but they did not say anything, neither did she because she had no voice).
In 1955 she was co-founder of the Spanish Association of University Women, institution that recovered the line of the Residencia de Señoritas and the Feminine University Youth, from 1920. Only after the death of Franco was her position reinstated as a professor of literature in the Pardo Bazán Institute in Madrid.
It was in 1986, the year in which the Residencia de Estudiantes was recovered, when Isabel, already retired, promoted the creation of the Federico García Lorca Foundation, with the aim of managing her brother’s legacy. A year before, and for the first time in his life, he had agreed to speak in public about his brother; it happened in the Faculty of Philosophy and Letters of Buenos Aires. And already as a lecturer, he premiered at the University Institute of Bergamo, invited by Professor Gabriel Morelli in 1986. Three years later, also in Italy, he participated in a Seminar of the University of Salerno, required by Lauro Dolfi. In left the direction of the Foundation to his niece Laura Garcia-Lorca de los Rios, remaining her as president of honor.
“Tatabel”, which for many was Isabelita, the bright girl of Federico, the dear friend of María Zambrano, the lighthouse of the García Lorca Foundation, died in Madrid on January 9, 2002, «… He died as he liked to live: with the house full of people, all around. ”
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