Morla Lynch, Carlos

Carlos-Morla-Lynch

Chilean diplomat, amateur musician and writer. Friend of Federico García Lorca during the Second Republic. He left a memoir and a book about his friendship with the poet. The important correspondence that both maintained, where supposedly they exchange confidences about their relationship, was retained by the diplomat’s family who threatened to destroy it.

Son of a Chilean diplomat, Carlos Morla Vicuña, and a feminist writer and journalist, Luisa Lynch, he was born in Paris, but due to his father’s work, he lived in many different places during his childhood, first in Europe and then in America and Japan.

A strong friendship grows between Morla and Lorca, but full of mysteries yet to be revealed: “How at ease I feel with him, both united in the truth of the landscape (…) entrusting us with the truth of what we feel, the truth of what we think…”, Morla writes in his diaries.

He carried out different jobs in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, wrote articles and in 1920 he joined the diplomatic career, as secretary of the Chilean embassy in Paris. He had married Bebé Vicuña years before, and they had lost one daughter but then a son was born, Carlos. In Paris they had a lounge where intellectuals and artists met.

Carlos Morla Lynch, Federico García Lorca and the Chilean ambassador in Spain in 1932. / Photo: FGL Foundation
Carlos Morla Lynch, Federico García Lorca and the Chilean ambassador in Spain in 1932. / Photo: FGL Foundation

In 1928, he was assigned to Madrid. In his first rounds through the Spanish bookstores he was struck by a recently published book: Gypsy Ballads by García Lorca.  Between them a strong friendship grows but it is full of mysteries yet to be revealed: “How comfortable I feel with him, both united in the truth of the landscape (…) entrusting us with the truth of what we feel, the truth of what we think…”, Morla writes in his diaries. But the truth, as Andrés Trapiello points out, is that of “that truth” he says nothing. Is it the enigma hidden by the correspondence between Lorca and Morla withheld by the diplomat’s family?

From 1936 to 1939, Carlos Morla Lynch turned the Chilean Embassy into a refuge for persecuted people from both sides. Pablo Neruda said that up to 4,000 people owed their lives to him, among them the writer and Falangist Rafael Sánchez Mazas or the families of Manuel Azaña, Indalecio Prieto and Largo Caballero.

His house in the capital was again a meeting place for writers and intellectuals. Federico García Lorca, Rafael Alberti, Vicente Aleixandre, Luis Cernuda, among many others, as well as numerous foreign visitors touring Spain, such as Arthur Rubinstein. However, it was with Federico with whom he had the closest relationship. The poet visited him almost daily and played the piano for those present or read his works. His book of memoirs, In Spain with Federico, gives a detailed account of the visits to the point that it can be considered a kind of diary of the Generation of ’27.

Morla Lynch (in the center with a white hat) and García Lorca (on the left) at the Miralcampo estate in Madrid. / Photo: The image is from the ambassador's book 'In Spain with Federico García Lorca'.
Morla Lynch (in the center with a white hat) and García Lorca (on the left) at the Miralcampo estate in Madrid / Photo: The image is from the ambassador’s book ‘In Spain with Federico García Lorca’.

From 1936 to 1939, Carlos Morla Lynch turned the Chilean Embassy into a refuge for persecuted people from both sides. Pablo Neruda said that up to 4,000 people owed him their lives, among them the writer and Falangist Rafael Sánchez Mazas or the families of Manuel Azaña, Indalecio Prieto and Largo Caballero. On the other hand, according to various testimonies, he did not help the poet from AlicanteMiguel Hernández. The two groups of tenants that the war divided into irreconcilable sides lived in separate spaces in the embassy. All the vicissitudes experienced in the Chilean delegation were collected in the second part of his memoirs, Spain Suffers. Finally, Morla Lynch wrote several diplomatic reports in which he gives an account of the war period.

After the Civil War he was posted to Berlin and then to Switzerland, Sweden and the Netherlands. In 1959, he was appointed ambassador to France. In 1964, retired, he returned to Madrid where he died in 1969. Among his most important works is the aforementioned In Spain with Federico García Lorca.

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