Maruxa Vilalta was born in Barcelona, Spain, on September 23, 1932. Her family, exiles from the Spanish Civil War, emigrated in 1939 to Mexico, where Vilalta has continued to reside. After completing her primary and secondary education at the Liceo Franco Mexicano in Mexico City, Vilalta studied Spanish literature at the college of philosophy and letters of the Autonomous National University of Mexico. She was married in 1951 and has two children.
Vilalta began her writing career as a novelist in 1957, with El castigo (the punishment). When, in 1959, she adapted her second published novel, Los desorientados (1958; the disoriented ones), for the stage, Vilalta was so impressed by the immediacy of the theatrical medium and the concrete life it gave to her characters that she dedicated herself thereafter almost exclusively to playwriting. While her early plays, especially Number 9, won for her considerable critical attention, it was in 1970, with Together Tonight, Loving Each Other So Much, that she really established herself as one of Mexico’s leading experimental dramatists. This was the first of three plays that would win for her the coveted Alarcón Prize for the best play of the year; in 1978, The Story of Him won that prize on a unanimous vote, something rather rare in the award’s history.
In 1975, with the prizewinning Nothing Like the Sixteenth Floor, Vilalta began directing her own plays, and as a director, she has been closely associated with the National Autonomous University of Mexico, which is considered the major locus for experimental play production in Mexico. Vilalta is also a noted essayist and theater critic for Mexico’s leading daily newspaper, Excelsior.