Miguel de Unamuno y Jugo, the third of six children, was reared as a strict Catholic in Bilbao. His father died when he was six. Deeply religious as a child and adolescent, he began in 1880 his studies at the University of Madrid. There, under the influence of the skepticism in vogue at the time, he lost faith in some of his most cherished religious beliefs. The bulk of his vast literary production during the rest of his life stems from his anguished efforts to recapture the comfort and strength of his earlier faith through his own powers of reason rather than through humble acceptance of the Church’s dogma. Fiercely rejecting all positivistic modes of thinking that denied transcendental meaning in life, he nevertheless maintained open conflict with the Catholic Church until his death.
In 1883, Unamuno received his licentiate degree from the University of Madrid; in 1884, his doctorate. In 1891, he married and assumed the chair of Greek at the University of Salamanca, becoming rector of the University nine years later, a post in which he remained until 1914. In 1924, the Primo de Rivera dictatorship exiled him to the Canary Islands. From there, he fled to France, where he remained until 1930, when he returned to Spain. In 1931, he was reappointed rector of Salamanca, being granted lifelong tenure as rector when he retired from the faculty in 1934. Yet, his lifelong tenure was short-lived: He was dismissed because of his criticism of Francisco Franco. Unamuno died in his home on December 31, 1936.