At the end of calle Elvira where it joins Plaza Nueva, on the second floor, the
last four windows in calle Elvira and
the first three in Plaza Nueva, was
the home of Emilia Llanos Medina, a life-long and intimate friend of poet
Federico García Lorca. She was quite a lot older than him, born in 1885, and they
were introduced by the painter Ismael de la Serna at the end of August 1918.
Lorca was very impressed by Emilia Llanos, as de la Serna expected him to be.
He gave her a copy of his first book Impressions
and Landscapes
(for which de la Serna had done the cover) and dated it
29th August 1918 with the dedication
“To the marvellous Emilia Llanos, spiritual treasure among the women of
Granada; divine emblem of the 20th Century; with all my fervour and
admiration.” – – The marvellous Emilia Llanos

From then on,
Lorca was a frequent visitor to this flat, Dolores Cebrián, Emilia’s maid,
informs us. He came and went with a degree of familiarity; it was a sort
of home from home for him.

Llanos maintained a
life-long friendship with Ismael de la Serna, mostly by correspondence, as the
painter spent most of the 20s and 30s in Paris. She was also a close friend of
Manuel de Falla’s, and of his sister Carmen.

On one occasion,
Falla urged Emilia to use her influence to persuade Lorca to break off his
contact with a certain ‘wretched group of young men’ whose company he was known
to enjoy. He was of course referring to a certain section of the city’s
semi-submerged homosexual milieu. It was her duty as a friend, he argued, to
lead the poet onto the path of righteousness. Emilia’s response was indeed
marvellous. “Federico is a wonderful person and we should love him as he is,
with his virtues and with his defects.” It wasn’t for them to judge him.

Who did judge him were the gentlemen of the Tribunal
of Political Responsibilites who in July 1941 reached the verdict that Lorca’s public
life had been ‘questionable’ (dudosa) and that he had been ‘free’ in his choice
of friendships (amistades libres). He was assumed to be a homosexual, although
for obvious reasons it was impossible to present concrete evidence for this

17 August 1936, the
day after the poet’s arrest: his mother begged Emilia to go and ask Falla to
intervene on her son’s behalf, as his life was clearly in danger. Emilia set
off but in the Cuesta de Gomérez she
met Antonio Gallego Burín, who advised her: “Don’t go, don’t go. Federico
is already dead. You’ll only get Falla into trouble.” “I swear,”
relates Emilia, “that if I had suspected there was a chance that Federico was still alive I
would have gone myself, on my own, to the Civil Government.” (Evidence
suggests Lorca was held overnight in the Civil Government building in calle Duquesa before being transferred
to Víznar.) When later Emilia told this to Falla, he made an enormous scene.
“He made me cry. Your duty was to have come immediately with the message,
no matter what anyone told you.” The day after news of Lorca’s death got
out, she went to a friend’s house (Cristina Gómez Contreras), terribly upset,
pale, and crying bitterly.

She never got over
the death of the poet, for whom she harboured intense feelings of affection all
her life. She was also convinced that she had not done enough among her
influential social contacts to prevent it. In the last years of her life she
talked to him as if he were present, on one of his once customary visits, and
would insist a place was laid out for ‘the boy’ at mealtimes. She died on 29
August at the age of 82.

Leer más,
en español: Lola Manjón. Emilia
Llanos Medina. Una
mujer en la Granada de Federico García Lorca. Comares 2017.
To my charming Emilia Llanos . With affection and
admiration from your devoted Federico 1931