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Gerald Brenan, who was born in 1894, set off on foot at the age of sixteen for the Pamir Mountains in Central Asia, but was forced to abandon the trip in Bosnia, defeated by snow and a lack of funds; he had walked more than 1500 miles. Joining the army in 1914, he fought at the Somme and Passchendale, was twice wounded and awarded both the Military Cross and the Croix de Guerre.
In 1919 he moved to a remote village in the Sierra Nevada where he lived intermittently until 1934, an experience he later described in South from Granada. In the early 1920s he had a love affair with the painter Dora Carrington and in 1931 married the American poet Gamel Woolsey, with whom he lived near Málaga. During the Second World War he broadcast to Spain for the BBC and in 1943 published The Spanish Labyrinth, his classic study of the origins of the civil war, which has been continuously in print ever since.
He and Gamel first revisited Spain in 1949 - the journey described in The Face of Spain - and returned to live there permanently in 1953. A regular contributor to the New Statesman and New York Review of Books, his many books include The Literature of the Spanish People, St John of the Cross: His Life and Poetry, Thoughts in a Dry Season and two volumes of autobiography, A Life of One's Own and Personal Record. He died in 1987, unrivalled as the most eminent English-language writer on Spanish history and culture.