Martínez Sierra, Gregorio (1881–1947) By Bender, Rebecca
Gregorio Martínez Sierra was a Spanish poet, playwright, and theater director who played a key role in the Spanish theatrical avant-garde and the development of art theater during the early twentieth century. He operated the publishing house Renacimiento, which was responsible for disseminating modernist literature and foreign playwrights throughout Spain. He was married to María de la O Lejárraga (María Martínez Sierra), who was apparently the true author of much of the literature that bears Gregorio’s name. Gregorio Martínez Sierra was born in Madrid in 1881. He briefly studied law and then philology before abandoning the university to dedicate himself to poetry and theater. In 1900 he married María de la O Lejárraga, a teacher and writer from Spain’s La Rioja region. The pair immediately began to collaborate in the writing and publishing of short novels and plays that today carry the name of Gregorio Martínez Sierra. Recent scholarship as well as Lejárraga’s memoirs, however, have shown that María was in fact the main author of the majority of the literature that bears her husband’s name. In 1906 Martínez Sierra fell in love with a young actress in his theater, Catalina Bárcena, though both his marriage and literary collaboration with Lejárraga would continue until Bárcena gave birth to his daughter in 1922. Despite their separation, Lejárraga continued publishing essays and novels pseudonymously under her estranged husband’s name, and curiously no new theatrical plays by “Gregorio Martínez Sierra” would premièr after 1922.