Juan Valera y Alcala-Galiano (1824-1905) was a Spanish realist author, diplomat, and politician. He was born in Cabra, a province of Cordoba, and after graduating from the University of Granada with a degree in law he entered upon a diplomatic career. Over the next fifty years he filled a number of positions in far-flung locations, becoming a member of Spanish legations at Lisbon, Rio de Janeiro, Dresden, and St Petersburg. After his return to Madrid in 1859 he became one of the editors of the liberal journal El Contemporaneo, and in 1865 was appointed Minister to Frankfurt. After the revolution of 1868 he was appointed Assistant Secretary of State and Director of Public Instruction, and later took up ministerial positions in Lisbon, Washington, and Brussels, becoming Ambassador to Vienna from 1893-95. He was elected to the Academy of Moral and Political Sciences in 1900. Throughout his diplomatic and political career he wrote a number of works which are acknowledged as among the highest his country's literature has produced. Pepita Jimenez, which first appeared as a serial in 1874, is his best-known work and has been translated into many languages. It tells the story of a young aspirant to the priesthood, Don Luis de Vargas, who falls in love with the young woman his father, Don Pedro, is courting, Pepita Jimenez. Pepita is the beautiful young widow of an octogenarian and heir to his large fortune. Don Luis finds himself having to choose between his love for Pepita, loyalty to his father, and his religious vocation. Reprinted from an original Spanish language edition.