Murcian Matadors: Women of the Bullring.
The great American novelist, Ernest Hemingway, had a considerable passion for Spanish bullfighting, which he saw as one of the ultimate symbols of masculinity, power and strength. Hemingway may well have been surprised to learn, therefore, that in Murcia at least, female bullfighters/matadors had been around for at least 60 years before he began writing (in the 1920’s and 1930’s) about Spain’s fascination with the bullring.
Indeed, way back in 1864, Irish newspapers such as the Waterford Mail had reported on the fact that three Spanish women had given up their Victorian era petticoats, crinolines and hooped skirts in order to take up careers as bullfighters and matadors in Murcia City’s cavernous bullring. Precisely how these women fared as bullfighters in Murcia is unclear, but it was certainly a very dangerous occupation for both men and women (and for the unfortunate bulls concerned!). In 1910, during a particularly well attended Murcia bullfighting event, one of the region’s best known matadors, called Pepete, was speared in the abdomen by a bull’s horns. Pepete was immediately carried from the arena to the nearest hospital, but died shortly after being admitted. Apparently, the unfortunate Pepete had been on the point of retiring from the arena when he was gored by the bull.
Pepete’s mother was clearly a key sponsor and supporter of her son’s career and after his death, she was inundated with hundreds of telegrams of condolence from all parts of Spain.
Newsboy for a Day: Read all about it!
In 1908, Manuel Guevara from Murcia emigrated to the USA. He left the region with nothing, as a young boy and in order to survive, he took a job selling newspapers on the streets of Santa Fe in California. He worked all the hours he could and eventually became a railway agent and a successful American publisher. Manuel became a dollar millionaire and the archetypal example of a successful self-made man. However, he didn’t forget his Murcian Spanish roots. Once he’d made all the money he needed and wanted and then retired, he returned to live in Murcia. The Irish press were certainly interested in this story of a Spanish emigrant to America who had achieved his very own version of ‘The American Dream’. The Wicklow People newspaper of October 1953 reported how Manuel was planning a well-publicised trip to Madrid, in order to sell newspapers on the streets of the city for one day. The newspaper recorded how Manuel Guevara wanted to be a newsboy again in order to record his appreciation of the very first job he’d had, once he’d left home to seek his fortune in America.