The Joan Maragall House provides a glimpse of bourgeois life one hundred years ago

16 December, 2014 | Barcelona People

Joan Maragall spent his final years at 79, Carrer d’Alfons XII. Today, this building houses the documentary collections that the Maragall family transferred to the Library of Catalonia, including manuscripts, articles and letters by the poet. More than that, though, Joan Maragall’s former residence has been converted into a house-museum that provides visitors with a glimpse of what a bourgeois home was like in the early-twentieth century.

The Joan Maragall Archive, which is managed by the Biblioteca Nacional de Catalunya, is a documentation centre at the service of researchers and scholars. The Archive contains important documentary resources about the life and work of the poet and the Modernista movement. It was Maragall’s wife, Clara Noble, who, shortly after the poet’s death in 1911, began to gather together his legacy. “It was an enormous job! She even contacted the many people with whom Joan Maragall corresponded in order to recover his letters and conserve them in the Archive”, says its director, Esther Vilar. Thanks to this, the Archive contains more than a thousand letters written by the poet.

But the Joan Maragall Archive is also a house-museum where several of the rooms are conserved exactly as they were one hundred years ago. As a result, the Maragall residence has become an example of a bourgeois home at the turn of the twentieth century. The spaces conserved include the drawing room, where the bourgeoisie received guests, the office where Maragall received visits from other intellectuals and writers, and two bedrooms.

The dining-room is one of the most impressive spaces in the house. Here, every afternoon at five, tea was taken, a custom that Clara Noble, who came from an English family, had introduced into the household. The family was joined by friends and other relatives, and the poet used to entertain the company by playing the piano.

The dining-room also contains the poet’s personal library. Esther Vilar notes that: “there are many books here which are of great interest to scholars, because most are annotated, and they also enable us to trace the poet’s influences according to what he read.” The outstanding works in the poet’s personal library include an edition of the complete works of Goethe, a gift from Maragall to himself on his graduation in Law.

The Joan Maragall house-museum can be visited by prior arrangement. Schools visits are also organised, and a theatre show based on Maragall’s articles, poems and correspondence is performed on the first Monday of each month.