Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra was a Spanish writer widely regarded as the greatest writer in the Spanish language, and one of the world's pre-eminent novelists. He is best known for his novel Don Quixote, a work often cited as both the first modern novel and one of the pinnacles of world literature.
Much of his life was spent in poverty and obscurity, many of its details are disputed or unknown, and the bulk of his surviving work was produced in the three years preceding his death. Despite this, his influence and literary contribution are reflected by the fact that Spanish is often referred to as "the language of Cervantes".
In 1569, Cervantes was forced to leave Spain and moved to Rome, where he worked in the household of a cardinal. In 1570, he enlisted in a Spanish Navy infantry regiment, and was badly wounded at the Battle of Lepanto in October 1571. He served as a soldier until 1575, when he was captured by Barbary pirates; after five years in captivity, he was ransomed, and returned to Madrid.
His first significant novel, titled La Galatea, was published in 1585, but he continued to work as a purchasing agent, then later a government tax collector.