Antonio Buero Vallejo was born to Francisco Buero, a military engineer, and Cruz Vallejo. He studied art at the San Fernando School of Fine Arts in Madrid and later served as a medical corpsman on the Loyalist side in the Spanish Civil War. After six years as a political prisoner, he was released in 1947 and started to write plays. In 1949, he won Spain’s major drama award, the Lope de Vega Prize, for Story of a Staircase, which he had submitted anonymously. This prize guaranteed the play’s performance.
During the era in which Francisco Franco controlled Spain, Buero Vallejo refused to make ideological concessions despite government censorship of many of his works. From his first work, he continued to write plays throughout his lifetime, often winning awards. The esteem in which Buero Vallejo was held by writers and scholars of varying persuasions was evinced by his election, in 1971, to the Royal Spanish Academy. Buero Vallejo made several trips to the United States and lectured at major American universities in the 1960’s. In 1978, he was elected an honorary fellow of the Modern Language Association of America and was honored with a special session at its annual meeting. He was also an honorary fellow of the American Association of Teachers of Spanish and Portuguese, the Society of Spanish and Spanish American Studies, and the Circulo de Bellas Artes de Madrid.
In 1994, a two-volume collection of his works appeared, and he published a collection of his essays on the theater and a play in 1999. Buero Vallejo died of a stroke in Madrid on April 28, 2000.