|The Spanish novelist, playwright, and poet Miguel de Cervantes, was the creator of Don Quixote, and the most famous figure in Spanish literature. He was born into a noble family near Madrid and entered the Italian army when he was 23; he was wounded at the battle of Lepanto a year later, permanently crippling his left hand. En route back to Spain in 1575, he and his brother Rodrigo were captured by Turks and sold into slavery. Cervantes was released in 1580, and after returning to Madrid he held several temporary administrative posts and began to write. In 1584 he married a woman 18 years his junior and left her three years later. For the next 20 years he led a nomadic existence and was imprisoned at least twice for debt. His first major work was GALATEA (1858), a pastoral romance, followed by DON QUIXOTE which, according to tradition, he wrote in prison at La Mancha. DON QUIXOTE did not make him rich, but it brought him international renown as a man of letters. In 1606 Cervantes settled in Madrid, where he remained the rest of his life.