Javier Marías (born 20 September 1951) is a Spanish novelist, translator, and columnist. Parts of his childhood were spent in the United States, where his father taught at various institutions, including Yale University and Wellesley College. His mother died when Javier was 26 years old. Marías's first literary employment consisted in translating Dracula scripts for his maternal uncle, Jesús Franco. He was educated at the Colegio Estudio in Madrid.
Marías began writing in earnest at an early age. “The Life and Death of Marcelino Iturriaga”, one of the short stories in “While the Women are Sleeping” (2010), was written when he was just 14. He wrote his first novel, “Los dominios del lobo”, at age 17, after running away to Paris. His second novel, “Travesía del horizonte”, was an adventure story about an expedition to Antarctica.
After attending the Complutense University of Madrid, Marías turned his attention to translating English novels into Spanish. His translations included work by Updike, Hardy, Conrad, Nabokov, Faulkner, Kipling, James, Stevenson, Browne, and Shakespeare. In 1979 he won the Spanish national award for translation for his version of Sterne's Tristram Shandy. Between 1983 and 1985 he lectured in Spanish literature and translation at the University of Oxford.
In 1986 Marías published “El hombre sentimental”, and in 1988 “Todas las almas”, which was set at Oxford University. The Spanish film director Gracia Querejetareleased El Último viaje de Robert Rylands, adapted from “Todas las almas”, in 1996.
His 1992 novel “Corazón tan blanco” was a commercial and critical success and for its English version “A Heart So White”, translated by Margaret Jull Costa, Marías and Costa were joint winners of the 1997 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award. His 1994 novel, “Mañana en la batalla piensa en mí”(“Tomorrow in the Battle Think on Me”), won the venezuelan Rómulo Gallegos Prize.
The protagonists of the novels written since 1986 are all interpreters or translators of one kind or another, based on his own experience as a translator and teacher of translation at Oxford University. Of these protagonists, Marías has written, “They are people who are renouncing their own voices.”
Marías operates a small publishing house under the name of Reino de Redonda. He also writes a weekly column in El País. An English version of his column “La Zona Fantasma” is published in the monthly magazine The Believer.