Cuban Authors

Overview Authors
  • Alejo Carpentier
  • José Martí
  • Nicolás Guillén
  • José María Heredia

José Martí Pérez

José Martí Pérez (1853 -1895)

José Martí is one of Cuba’s most famous historical, cultural and literary figures. Born on January 28 in 1853, to Spanish parents he later attended school in Havana. It was not long before Martí began writing about the Cubans’ struggle for independence.

In March 1870, he was arrested for his association with independist groups and sentenced to 6 years imprisonment and hard labor by the War Council. With his father’s intervention, he was soon pardoned and the sentence was reduced to exile, the reason for which he moved to Spain.

He completed his education in Spain and earned a degree in Literature and Philosophy. He then traveled around many European cities until in 1875 he leaves England for Mexico, where he publishes works in several magazines. In 1877 he goes back to Havana for a while, to then return to Mexico and travel back and forth between Guatemala and Mexico. In December of that same year, he married a fellow Cuban in Mexico, Carmen Zayas Bazán, originally from Camagüey.

Returning to Cuba after the Zanjón Pact, he works as a lawyer and obtains a permit to teach, before being arrested again and deported to Spain, on charges of conspiracy. He traveled often, going from New York, to Venezuela and back again. He became involved in Cuban political and revolutionary movements such as the Cuban Revolutionary Party, and all the while publishing literary works and poetry. He soon organized an independence process, heading towards the island. Despite opposition by the United States, Martí managed to make it to Cuba in an attempt to lead the independence procession, only to by brought down by troops upon his arrival. He had nevertheless, contributed greatly to the struggle for independence of Cuba from Spain.

Martí is considered a national hero in Cuba and regarded as one of the most important figures related to the Latin American independence movements, along with other greats such as Bolívar and San Martín.

Martí's ideals influenced generations of Cubans and the famous "Guantanamera" song, considered the unofficial anthem of Cuba, is actually based on one of Martí’s poems.