Serafín Álvarez Quintero was born on March 26, 1871, and his brother Joaquín Álvarez Quintero, on January 20, 1873, both in the Andalusian town of Utrera in the hinterland of Seville. Their early years were spent in Utrera, where they enjoyed, according to their own testimony, a happy and tranquil childhood with all the comforts that middle-class life could offer in their sleepy little hometown: in the spring—horses, a young donkey, and kites; and at Christmas—a nativity scene with the three Wise Men, a toy train, and a velocipede. Their youth, however, was not without that healthy conflict that molds character. There were two factions among the children of the town, and conflict, though never malicious, was inevitable.
Given two brothers whose backgrounds and artistic temperaments were so alike as to be almost identical, one might conclude that they would be similar in personality as well, but such was not the case. Serafín was extroverted, happy, and talkative; Joaquín was introverted, melancholy, and quiet. They were both, however, mischievous, dynamic, and wholesome.
In 1878, because of financial reverses, the family moved to Seville, a city where the patios were filled with roses, jasmine, and rose blossoms. The boys first attended the Colegio de San Lorenzo and then the Instituto Provincial. It was in the institute that Serafín began composing poetry and Joaquín began writing short theatrical works. Their association with the little magazine Perecito began at this time also. In this venture, the boys had the support of their older brother Pedro, and they found in Manuel Díaz Martín, the magazine’s editor, a benefactor and spiritual guide. A journalist, Martín had also a passion for folklore, and his influence on the brothers was significant. It was in Seville, also, that their first play, Esgrima y amor, was performed in 1888. They then moved to Madrid where Gilito was produced in 1889; however, this initial success was followed by a lean period, during which the brothers supported themselves by working in the treasury. Finally, however, with the success of El ojito derecho and La reja in 1897 and La...
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