Cervantes is the most famous of all Spanish language writers of all time and perhaps the most famous writer of all time in any language, rivaling his contemporary Shakespeare. His birthday was in 1547 at the city of Alcala de Henares near Madrid.
Cervantes enlisted in the armed forces in time for the naval Battle of Lepanto (1571) against the Turks. He was injured on his left hand, but continued as a soldier. On his return voyage to Spain in 1575 he was captured by the Turks and spent the next five years as a prisoner of war in Algiers until his return to Madrid.
In 1584 he married Catalina of Salazar. He published the novel La Galatea, and several of his comedies without much success. Cervantes became a public official and traveled through Andalusia collecting rents, and gathering goods for the Spanish Armada. These were tasks he did not enjoy since numbers and administration were not his trade.
Thirteen years later, Cervantes was thrown in jail in Seville, where he was held for three months, accused of corruption but was set free before going to trial. He settled in Valladolid in 1604, and obtained the rights to publish El Quijote (Don Quixote), (the most famous book -after the Bible- ever published). By 1608, Cervantes and his family settled once again in Madrid. He dedicated himself completely to his literary works and joined a pious brotherhood. Despite his fame, by then extended throughout Europe, Cervantes led a simple life.
Four days after finishing his novel The Travails ofPersiles & Sigismunda, and precisely the same day as William Shakespeare, Don Miguel de Cervantes y Saavedra died in Madrid on the 23 of April of 1616.