Luis Berenguer

Luis Berenguer y Moreno de Guerra (Ferrol, La Coruña, 11 December 1923 – San Fernando, Cádiz, 14 September 1979) was a Spanish writer. He wrote six novels, the first of which, El mundo de Juan Lobón (1967), is his best known work. It won the Premio de la Crítica and was turned into a television series. He also won the Premio Alfaguara in 1971 for Lena Verde.[1]

Family background

Luis Berenguer Moreno de Guerra was born in El Ferrol (La Coruña) on December 11, 1923. He did not have Galician roots. He was born there, as he himself used to say, by "Ministerial order" as his father had been posted to El Ferrol as a naval doctor. Luis was the third son of Rafael Berenguer de las Cagigas and María Luisa Moreno de Guerra.

His Berenguer forebears came from both old Navy and landowning families. His paternal grandfather, Juan Berenguer Salazar, born in Callosa de Ensarriat (Alicante), was also a naval doctor. Specializing in tropical diseases, he spent thirteen years in the Philippines before being sent to help with a cholera epidemic in Valencia, where his son was born. Another paternal relation was General Dámaso Berenguer y Fusté (1873-1953), Presidente del Gobierno (i.e. Prime minister) during the short period called "Dictablanda", which in 1930 followed the dictatorship of Primo de Rivera. Although only second cousins, they had been very close since childhood and one of Luis's brothers, Juan, married the general's granddaughter.

On Luis's mother's side his grandfather Rafael Moreno de Guerra y Croquer, a native of San Fernando (Cádiz) and another naval officer, pursued a typical colonial career: after four years in Cuba and two in Fernando Po he spent twelve years in the Philippines, where his last posting was civil-military governor in Pollok (Mindanao). Rafael's second wife, Emilia Fernández Ruiz de Morales, daughter of an Army officer from Extremadura, had lived in Manila since her childhood. Their daughter, Luis's mother, María Luisa Moreno de Guerra, was born aboard ship in the bay of Zamboanga at the moment that the Spanish flag was lowered in the islands: thus in the family it was always said that she was the last Spaniard of Filippinos.

Many more distant ancestors on Luis Berenguer's mother's side (the Moreno de Guerra, Macé, Croquer y Tiscar) played distinguished roles in the history of San Fernando. His great-grandfather, Juan Nepomuceno Moreno de Guerra y Macé, was the Mayor of the city in 1846-1847, Member of Parliament, hereditary Knight of Ronda and rich landowner, who donated land for a public park in San Fernando (which still exists under his name) in 1853. The Croquer, another old naval family from San Fernando, came originally from Cornwall.

In 1927 the Berenguer-Moreno de Guerra family moved to Madrid, taking Luis's maternal grandmother with them. Luis used to recall from his childhood that "Grandma told us stories of those islands that excited our imagination, using some words in Tagalo (the native language of the Philippines), stories of lizards and snakes and a wet-nurse who wanted to exchange her son for my cousin Paco, because he was more beautiful". His grandmother told further stories, more or less apocryphal, of how she was defending the bay when the enemies took her prisoner and burned her finger to force her to reveal where the cannons were. Such eccentricities all added to Luis Berenguer's upbringing within a conservative and religious Spanish family.

Other Languages
español: Luis Berenguer