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Arturo Barea: From Civil War Madrid to Exile in Oxfordshire

Saturday 28 March 2015

1 Hour


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Ticket price

Journalist and writer William Chislett explains how the Spanish writer Arturo Barea ended up in exile in Oxfordshire. Barea (1897-1957), best known as author of the autobiographical trilogy translated as The Forging of a Rebel, which was highly praised by George Orwell, fled Madrid during the Spanish Civil War and came to England as an exile in 1939. He spent the last decade of his life living at Middle Lodge, a house provided for him by the second Lord Faringdon on the edge of Buscot Park, near Oxford. The lord was a socialist who had converted his Rolls-Royce into an ambulance and joined a British field hospital in Aragón in the Civil War.

Barea was the chief of the government’s foreign press office where he handled the copy of correspondents such as Ernest Hemingway. Barea struggled to balance truth-telling with loyalty to the Republican cause.  He broadcast as An Unknown Voice of Madrid, telling stories about life in the besieged city. As defeat by General Franco’s forces approached and because of difficulties with the Communist Party, he left Spain. In England he worked for the BBC Latin American Service.

Barea has a commemorative stone in Faringdon cemetery, which was restored by Chislett and a group of admirers, and a plaque in Barea’s memory was put up outside The Volunteer pub, where he spent many convivial hours.

Chislett is a veteran of the Spanish scene. He covered the transition to democracy between 1975 and 1978 for The Times and was Mexico correspondent for the Financial Times between 1978 and 1984. He writes about Spain for the Elcano Royal Institute and has published several books on the country. Chislett speaks at another festival event on Spain today.

Chislett will be introduced by writer and Financial Times journalist Harry Eyres

This event is part of the Spanish strand at this year’s festival.