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Spanish born novelist, dramatist, and journalist Eva Canel (1857-1932), lived much of her life in Cuba, a country she loved fervently despite her opposition to Cuba's revolution to win its independence from Spain. An intensely political writer, Canel's La Mulata was the first of three plays she would write in her lifetime.
UIUC Library's copy of La Mulata was purchased during the 1960s as one piece of a larger collection of approximately 16,000 items relating to Spanish drama. Bound together in 669 volumes, and represented for over 30 years with a single brief bibliographic record in the Library's catalog, the collection was serendipitously "rediscovered" in the bowels of the Main Stacks by a library staff member last year. The Spanish Play Project seeks to catalog and digitize the collection, the contents of which fall into two general categories: 1) late eighteenth through mid-twentieth century primary source material; and 2) twentieth century secondary material, with the former far exceeding the latter. The primary sources include prompter’s copies; author-signed copies; author and composer signed copies (for some that were musical); late eighteenth and nineteenth-century comedias sueltas (Spanish equivalent of a chapbook); bilingual editions (usually Italian and Spanish); Catalan text and some were issued as serials. The marginalia, modifications for performance, signatures and stamps (such as from Spanish theatrical archives) that appear on many of the plays make them rare. Through internal library funding the Project has made great strides in assessing the collection and figuring out how best to treat it. The Library is in the process of writing a major grant to catalog all of the plays, a first step in getting them digitized.