Skip to main content

Archive of Arturo and Ilsa Barea


  • How to

The archive comprises:

  1. Arturo Barea's original typescripts
  2. Arturo Barea's BBC scripts
  3. Printed Articles, short stories and reviews of Arturo Barea's work
  4. Arturo and Ilsa Barea's personal and business papers
  5. Arturo Barea's Trips to America and La Nación
  6. Ilsa Barea's original typescripts and printed articles
  7. Ilsa Barea's Vienna book
  8. Ilsa Barea's work as translator, editor, and reader
  9. Arturo Barea's correspondence
  10. Ilsa Barea's correspondence
  11. Background materials and photographs


  • Creation: 1900-2018, bulk c. 1930-1970


8.0 Linear metres (56 physical shelfmarks)

Language of Materials

  • Spanish; Castilian
  • English
  • German
  • French

Preferred Citation

Oxford, Bodleian Libraries [followed by shelfmark and folio or page reference, e.g. MS. 12614/1, Folder 1].

Please see our help page for further guidance on citing archives and manuscripts.

Full range of shelfmarks:

MSS. 12614/1-56

Collection ID (for staff)

CMD ID 12614


Correspondence and papers of Arturo and Ilsa Barea.

Biographical / Historical

Arturo Barea Ogazón (1897-1957) was a Spanish writer, literary critic and broadcaster. A socialist and active member of the UGT (the Socialist trade union) during the Spanish Civil War, Barea was the head of the Press Department of the Republican Foreign Office in Madrid, dealing with foreign press correspondents such as Ernest Hemingway or John Dos Passos. During this time, he met and married his second wife, the Austrian socialist Ilsa Barea (née Ilse Pollak), his life-long companion, collaborator and translator. In 1938 Barea and Ilsa left Spain for France and then England, where they arrived in March 1939. It was during his early years in exile that Barea became a well-known contributor of articles and short stories to Horizon, Time and Tide, the New Statesman, the Times Literary Supplement and Tribune, aside from contributing the essay ‘Struggle for the Spanish Soul’ to Orwell’s wartime series Searchlight Books. He was also a regular broadcaster for the BBC Latin American Service under the penname ‘Juan de Castilla’. Barea is the author of the autobiographical trilogy The Forging of a Rebel, which was first published in English by Faber & Faber (1941-1946) and edited by T.S. Eliot. The trilogy was an immediate international success and was translated into nine languages during the forties. The Spanish edition came out in Argentina in 1951 and it was only published in Spain in 1977 after Francisco Franco’s death. Barea never returned to Spain and became a British national in 1948.

Ilsa Barea (1902-1973), nee Pollak, was a socialist political activist, journalist and translator. Born in Vienna into a liberal family, Ilsa was politically active early on, particularly in the areas of propaganda and education. She was a member of the Austrian Communist Party initially then later the Austrian Social Democratic Party. In 1922 she married Leopold Kulcsar. They moved to Czechoslovakia in 1934, and then to Spain in 1936. She was employed by the Press Department of the Republican Foreign office in Madrid. During this period of the Spanish Civil War, she met Arturo Barea. They were both working as censors at their headquarters in the Telefonica (the title of her serialised novel published in the Austrian Arbeiter-Zeitung in 1949). After her husband’s death, she married Arturo Barea in 1938 when they had to flee from Spain. After a difficult year in Paris, they arrived in England in 1939. Ilsa continued supporting the Spanish Republican struggle by publishing articles in Time and Tide, New Statesman, Times Literary Supplement, and Tribune. In August 1939 she joined the BBC Monitoring Service in Evesham, translating broadcasts from German and Spanish alongside Ernest Gombrich, George Weidenfeld, Martin Esslin and Anatol Goldberg. She was an exceptionally gifted linguist. Later her work focused on evaluating foreign writers, translating many of them for English and American publishing houses. She also broadcast for the BBC on a number of subjects. She was a close collaborator of Arturo's, influencing his work in many ways. Her most important contribution was the translation of his trilogy The Forging of a Rebel into English, praised for its quality in many reviews. The legacy of her father, Valentin Pollak, a well-known Viennese teacher and educationalist, was carried on in Ilsa’s work as a teacher herself and interpreter for Labour Parties and Unions across Europe. She became a British national in 1948, but after Arturo’s death in 1957, she returned to Vienna regularly, spending the last years of her life there. She is the author of Vienna: Legend and Reality (1966), a social and cultural history of the city. For more on Ilsa Barea, see Michael Eaude´s Triumph at Midnight of the Century: A Critical Biography of Arturo Barea: Explaining the Roots of the Spanish Civil War. Brighton: Sussex Academic Press, 2009.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Donated to the Bodleian Libraries by Uli Rushby-Smith in 2018.

Catalogue of the Archive of Arturo and Ilsa Barea
Finding aid prepared by Finding aid prepared by Dr Eva Nieto McAvoy
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Bodleian Libraries Repository

Weston Library
Broad Street
Oxford OX1 3BG United Kingdom