NEW ACQUISITION: The Spanish Biographical Dictionary from the Real Academia de la Historia

Four of the fifty volumes

Four of the fifty volumes

Cambridge University Library has acquired the long-awaited Diccionario biográfico español.  First published in 2009 by the Real Academia de la Historia (RAH), the dictionary is a major reference work with over 40,000 biographies of major figures in the Hispanic world. The fifty-volume work is an essential resource for anyone interested in the history of Spain, the Americas and the territories that were part of the Spanish Crown. It features entries for contemporary figures as well as those from the past, spanning from the fourth century B.C. up to the twentieth century.  This dictionary is the culmination of work which began in the eighteenth century, when the Real Academia de la Historia started work on the Diccionario histórico-crítico de España, of which only two volumes were published in 1802. This new dictionary, launched between 1999 and 2000, has had a large group of collaborators (over 5,000 biographers from more than 500 scientific institutions in Spain and abroad). However, and despite the magnitude of the project, the publication of the first twenty five volumes of the dictionary sparked a national controversy due to the perceived sympathies of some of the contributors to the dictatorship of Francisco Franco. The dictionary has also been criticised for misrepresenting women and for being thin on the ground as far as literary figures are concerned. To this effect, the RAH has announced that it will be publishing an addendum to the fifty-volume work. The recently created Centro Digital de Estudios Biográficos (Digital Centre of Biographical Studies) from the RAH provides free access to an online database containing the minimum biographical data of all the entries included in the Spanish biographical dictionary (dates and place of birth and death, as well as the disciplinary areas in which they are or were involved). To access the database click here. The fifty-volume work may now be consulted in the Reading Room (classmark: R457.S8). For any further queries regarding this work, please contact Sonia Morcillo, Hispanic Specialist, at

Sonia Morcillo García




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