Miguel de Cervantes—Saavedra, a distinguished Spanish poet and novelist, born near Madrid, Spain, Oct. 9 (?), 1547; died there, April 23, 1616. He is said to have spent two years at the University of Salamanca, and to have studied afterward in Madrid.
In 1568 Cervantes went to Italy in the service of Cardinal Aquaviva, and distinguished himself at the naval battle of Lepanto, where his left hand was shattered by a gunshot. After five years of army life he was taken prisoner, and sent to Algiers, where he remained a captive for five years. Cervantes was at length ransomed by his friends, and reentered the army, in which he continued to serve until 1583. He then began his literary career, his first work being a prose pastoral entitled “ Galatea.”
In 1584 he married. During the next ten years Cervantes wrote about thirty dramas, of which only two survive. In 1588 he went to Seville as Commissioner to the Indian squadrons, and helped to victual the ships of the Spanish Armada. For several years after this time his life is involved in obscurity. He is said to have visited La Mancha, and to have been imprisoned there on a charge of theft in office. It is also said that while in prison he conceived the idea of “ Don Quixote.” In 1603 he was living in Valladolid.
In 1604 Cervantes published the first part of “ Don Quixote,” which ran through four editions in a single year. In 1613 he published “Novelas Exemplares,” or “Didactic Tales,” twelve stories which display a thorough acquaintance with every phase of Spanish life. The next year appeared Cervantes's most successful poem, a burlesque entitled “ Viage al Parnassus,” a volume of plays, and second part of u Don Quixote,” which was published late in 1615. On the 4th of April, 1616, Cervantes entered the order of Franciscans, and died within three weeks.
You can read more about Cervantes as well as his most famous novel Don Quixote here.