Sans, Maria

SMaria Sans is said to be EMH’s inspiration for the character of Maria in For Whom the Bell Tolls, published n 1943. I never noticed anyone talk about or mention her until she died in 2012 at the age of 91.


Ms. Sans supposedly met EMH during the Spanish Civil War when she was volunteering as a nurse. Nursing the men of the International Brigades, she met a young Swiss soldier and they fell in love. When WWII began their relationship ended.

Ms. Sans was born in Arbeca, Spain in 1920 and her family moved to Mataro (on the Mediterranean coast) when she was little. Mataro is supposedly where she met EMH. The former factory worker became a nurse as there were not enough nurses aiding the foreign fighters.

Agàpit Borràs, a Catalan architect, published his theory that young Maria Sans was the true inspiration for Maria in La Vanguardia (a Spanish newspaper) in 1996. Ms. Sans never capitalized on meeting EMH during the Spanish conflict.

maria sans photo

–Maria Sans


  5 comments for “Sans, Maria

  1. April 22, 2016 at 5:05 PM

    Beautiful woman with a great mind and heart. No wonder she was one of his inspirations. Something to be said about her ethics, something to be admired, never having capitalized on meeting Hemingway.

  2. April 22, 2016 at 5:44 PM

    Quite the ladies man this EMH. It would seem that in the early 1900’s, writers were the true Rock Stars…….well, before there were Rock Stars!

    • April 22, 2016 at 9:11 PM

      Isn’t that the truth! Tune in on X day–an obscure woman!

  3. April 22, 2016 at 7:44 PM

    Visiting from A to Z. Wow, I just keep learning new things! Great post, thanks!

    • April 22, 2016 at 9:09 PM

      Thanks, Julie, for visiting. I have learned much this A to Z!!! Cheers, Denise

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