Juan Valera y Alcalá-Galiano was born in 1824 in Cabra, in Córdoba province. He earned a law degree from the University of Granada, followed by nearly fifty years as a career diplomat worldwide. When he resettled in Madrid, he became an editor at El Contemporáneo, followed by government positions including Minister to Frankfurt, Assistant Secretary of State, and Director of Public Instruction. After assignments in Lisbon, Washington, DC, Brussels, and Vienna, Valera was elected to the Academy of Moral and Political Sciences. His published works, still considered among Spain's finest literature, include Pepita Jiménez, Doña Luz, Las ilusions del doctor Faustino, El comendador Mendoza, and Pasarse de listo.