Maria-Mercè Marçal, poet, essayist, translator and critic, was born on 13 November 1952 in Barcelona, although she always claimed her origins were in Ivars d’Urgells, where she spent her childhood. In 1969 she went to University of Barcelona to start her degree in Classical Philology. During her time at university, she started writing poetry as part of the group of young poets ‘El Mall’ with Xavier Bru de Sala and Ramon Pinyol, whom she married in 1972. This same year, Marçal started as a teacher of Catalan language and Literature, a task she never abandoned. A year later in 1973, she co-founded the publishing house ‘El Mall’ along with Xavier and Ramon.

Maria-Mercè Marçal photographed in 1995 by Rafael Vargas
Maria-Mercè Marçal photographed in 1995 by Rafael Vargas (source: Moritz Barcelona via Wikimedia Commons CC BY-SA 2.0)

Her literary career began with Cau de llunes (Den of Moons), which won the prestigious Carles Riba Prize for poetry in 1976. The same year that she set out on her political career with PSAN, and was a member of the executive until 1979. In 1980 she divorced her husband, Ramon Pinyol;  her second book Bruixa de dol (The Mourning Witch), published in 1979, narrates her ‘itinerary of a single woman’ and her friendship with other women. The same year she created the course on feminism at the Summer University of Prada de Conflent, that she would coordinate until 1985.

In 1982 she published Sal oberta (Open Salt), which or the first time in Catalan poetry, elaborates on the experience of her pregnancy. Another important book for the Catalan tradition was published Terra de Mai (The Neverland) the same year. These fifteen sestinas poetically narrate the experience of a same-sex love relationship for the first time in Catalan literature. This book was later reprinted in La germana, l’estrangera, published in 1985. These poems would be dedicated to the first relationship with her daughter Heura, who was born in 1980. Her last book of poems, Desglaç (Thawning), was included in her complete works, Llengua Abolida (Abolished Language), published in 1989. In 1992 she proposed the creation of Catalan Women Writers as part of the Catalan Centre for PEN.

She died in Barcelona on 5 July 1998 of cancer at the age of 45. A book of poetry entitled Raó del cos (Reason of the Body) edited by Lluïsa Julià with an introduction by Pere Gimferrer was published posthumously in 2000.

Compiled by Noèlia Diaz-Vicedo (London)



Cau de llunes (Barcelona: Proa, 1977; 2nd edition, 1998)

Bruixa de dol (1977-1979) (Sant Boi de Llobregat: Llibres del Mall, 1979/Barcelona: Edicions 62, 1998)

Terra de mai (València: El Cingle, 1982)

Sal oberta (Sant Boi de Llobregat: Llibres del Mall, 1982/Barcelona: Edicions 62, 1993)

La germana, l'estrangera (1981-1984) (Sant Boi de Llobregat: Llibres del Mall, 1985/Barcelona: Edicions 62, 1995)

Desglaç (1984-1988) (Barcelona: Edicions 62 [Empúries], 1988; 2nd edition, 1998)

Llengua abolida (1973-1988) (València: 3 i 4, 1989; 2nd edition, 2000)

Raó del cos (Barcelona: Edicions 62  [Empúries], 2000)


La passió segons Renée Vivien (Barcelona: Columna, 1994; 5th edition, 1996)

Short Fiction

‘Viratges, reminiscències’ in Barceldones (Barcelona: Edicions de l'Eixample, 1990)

‘Jocs de màscares’ in Dones soles. 14 contes (Barcelona: Planeta, 1995, pp. 73-92)

Children’s Books

La disputa de Fra Anselm amb l'ase ronyós de la cua tallada [based on a story by Anselm Turmeda; written with Glòria Puig] (Barcelona: Aliorna,1986)

Cançó de saltar a corda (Barcelona: Cruïlla, 2004)

La màgia de les paraules (Barcelona: Baula, 2004)

Essays and Criticism

En dansa obliqua de miralls: Pauline M. Tarn (Renée Vivien), Caterina Albert (Víctor Català) i Maria Antònia Salvà, in Cartografies del desig: quinze escriptores i el seu món (Barcelona: Proa, 1998)

Rosa Leveroni, en el llindar, in Literatura de dones: una visió del món (Barcelona: La Sal, 1988)

Com en la nit, les flames, in Cartografies del desig: quinze escriptores i el seu món (Barcelona: Proa, 1998)

Sota el signe del drac (Barcelona: Proa, 2004)

Introductions to Books/Prologues

Josefa Contijoch:  Ales intactes  (Barcelona: Columna, 1996)

Montserrat Abelló: Foc a les mans (Barcelona: Columna, 1990)

Felícia Fuster: Una cançó per a ningú i trenta diàlegs inútils  (Barcelona: Proa, 1984)

Clementina Arderiu: Contraclaror: antologia poètica [Introduction, commentary, selection] (Barcelona: La Sal, edicions de les dones, 1985)

Helena Valentí: D'esquena al mar (Barcelona: Edicions de l’Eixample, 1991)

Amadeu Vidal: Invisibles  (Barcelona: Edicions 62, 1996)

Montserrat Abelló: Cartografies del desig. Quinze escriptores i el seu món (Barcelona: Proa, 1998)

Monika Zgustová: Versions d'Akhmàtova i Tsvetàieva. Com en la nit les flames (Barcelona: Proa, 2004)

Lluïsa Julià [ed.]: Memòria de l'aigua. Onze escriptores i el seu món / Deu compositores i el seu món (Barcelona: Proa, 1999)


From Russian

Anna Akhmàtova: Rèquiem i altres poemes [Translated with Monika Zgustová] (Barcelona: Edicions 62, 1990)

Mariana Tsvetàieva: Poema de la fi [Translated with Monika Zgustová] (Barcelona: Edicions 62, 1992)

Anna Akhmàtova and Mariana Tsvetàieva: Versions d'Akhmàtova i Tsvetàieva. Com en la nit les flames [Translated with Monika Zgustová] (Barcelona: Proa, 2004)

From French

Colette: La dona amagada (Barcelona: Edicions del Mall, 1985)

Leonor Fini: L'Oneiropompe (Barcelona: Edicions de l'Eixample, 1992)

Marguerite Yourcenar: El tret de gràcia (Barcelona: Edicions B, 1990)