Michael Jacobs Biography
Michael Jacobs (Genoa, Italy, 1952–London, UK, 11 January 2014) was a Hispanist, a writer of travel books about Spain and an art historian. He studied at the Courtauld Art Institute. While finishing his doctoral research on Italian art, his thesis advisor, Sir Anthony Blunt, was accused of having been a Russian spy before the Second World War.
After sending a letter to The Times defending Blunt as a great historian and teacher of art, Jacobs decided to abandon his degree to dedicate himself to writing and, although initially he focused on his specialism, producing art books such as The Good and Simple Life: Artist Colonies in Europe and America, he was soon recognised as an erudite, witty and intense travel writer, with numerous successful books published, most of them about Spain and the Spanish-speaking world.
His first book about Spain was Andalucía (London, 1990), which has already been reprinted many times since its first appearance as a Penguin book. Shortly after, he published Hopes and Memories: A Spanish Journey (1994), an unusual tale, very personal and literary, with an ironic view of Spain during the period in which the country was preparing for the Olympic Games in Barcelona and Seville Expo.
Following this, the author was invited by the Director of El legado Andalusí to write a travel book that followed the informative approach of this Foundation. The result was In The Glow Of The Phantom Palace: Travels Between Granada and Timbuktu (1996), which stripped the monument of a host of myths and erroneous conceptions that had been held for centuries.
A new phase in Jacobs' approach to Andalucía began in 1999 when he discovered Frailes village in Jaen, his residence for most of the year. Tales about Frailes form the basis of the most popular and accessible of all his books to date, The Factory of Light: Tales from my Andalucian Village (2003). This combines humour, realism and magic, a witty corrective to the traditional English genre of travel literature dedicated to the good life abroad.
His next book Ghost Train Through The Andes was the story of his journey through Chile and Bolivia, recreating the likeness of his grandparents. His last book was The Robber of Memories, based on the Magdalena River in Colombia.