British writer and Hispanist. He wrote several books about Spain and in one of them he included his research on the murder of Federico García Lorca.
He was born in Malta in 1894, under the name of Edward Fitzgerald Brenan, son of a British Army officer and an Irish mother. During his childhood he lived in different places due to his father’s destinies until he settled definitively in England. In 1912, he ran away from the family home, crossed France and Italy on foot with a friend and reached the Balkans. In 1913, he returned to his parents and in 1914 he enlisted in the army during the First World War. He joined the Bloomsbury Circle, a group of British artists who met at the home of the writer Virginia Woolf and her sister Vanessa. There he met Dora Carrington, a painter, with whom he had a brief relationship.
In 1950, he published The Face of Spain where he exposes his research on the murder of Federico García Lorca after visiting Alfacar and Víznar.
Thanks to his parents’ inheritance he moved for a time to Granada (1919-1936) seeking tranquility to read and go on walks. He settled in Yegen (a village in the Alpujarra of Granada). He had a daughter with Juliana, a very young Alpujarran worker. Brenan took the child with him when he left and married Gamel Woolsey shortly after. He named the girl Miranda Helen and never allowed her mother to reveal her origins. Juliana lived tormented by this daughter who was taken from her. During her stay in Yegen she was visited a couple of times by her Bloomsbury friends.
After several comings and goings, the Civil War surprises him in Málaga. Gamel wrote a book about his war experience, Málaga in Flames. In 1943, Brenan published one of his best-known works, The Spanish Labyrinth, in which he attempts to analyze the causes of the war. The volume was banned in Spain but was published in Paris by Ruedo Ibérico Publishing House.
Spain was his obsession. He continued to write articles about it and about St. John of the Cross, and in 1949 he traveled the country and, in 1950, he published The Face of Spain where he exposes his research on the murder of Federico García Lorca after visiting Alfacar and Víznar. He begins a close friendship with Julio Caro Baroja. He continues to travel in Italy and in the United States and publishes a History of Spanish Literature. In 1957, appears To the South of Granada, a treatise on anthropology of his experience in the Alpujarra. He then went to Morocco and Greece and, in 1962, published an autobiographical book, A Life of One’s Own.
In 1968, his wife dies, he meets Linda Nicholson-Price and moves to Málaga. He publishes the biography of St. John of the Cross and Personal Record (1920-1972), plus a book of poems and another of aphorisms.
In 1982, he was honored in Yegen and received the Order of British Knight. The following year he was named adopted son of Ugíjar and after a period in an old people’s home in London, the Spanish and Andalusian governments returned him to Alhaurín el Grande where the Gerald Brenan Foundation was created. He died in Málaga in 1987 and his body was donated to the Faculty of Medicine. In 2001, his remains were cremated and were buried next to those of his wife in the English Cemetery. His house in Churriana was also converted into a museum.