Lope de Rueda (1510?, Seville - 1565, Córdoba) was a Spanish dramatist and author, regarded by some as the best of his era. A very versatile writer, he also wrote comedies, farces, and pasos. He was the precursor to what is considered the golden age of Spanish literature.
He was born early in the sixteenth century at Seville, where, according to Cervantes, he worked as a metal-beater. His name first occurs in 1554 as acting at Benavente, and between 1558 and 1561 he was manager of a strolling company which visited Segovia, Seville, Toledo, Madrid, Valencia and Córdoba. In the last-named city Rueda fell ill, and on March 21, 1565 made a will which he was too exhausted to sign; he probably died shortly afterwards, and is said by Cervantes to have been buried in Córdoba cathedral. He was twice married; first to a disreputable actress named Mariana, who became the mistress of the Duke de Medinaceli; and second to Rafaela Angela, who bore him a daughter.
His works were issued posthumously in 1567 by Timoneda, who toned down certain passages in the texts. Rueda's more ambitious plays are mostly adapted from the Italian; in Eufemia he draws on Boccaccio, in Med ora he utilizes Giancarli's Zingara, in Arinelina he combines Raineri's Attilia with Cecchi's Servigiale, and in Los Engañados he uses Glingannati, a comedy produced by the Intronati, a literary society at Siena. These follow the original so closely that they give no idea of Rueda's talent; but in his pasos or prose interludes he displays an abundance of riotous humour, great knowledge of low life, and a most happy gift of dialogue.
His predecessors mostly wrote for courtly audiences or for the study; Rueda with his strollers created a taste for the drama which he was able to gratify, and he is admitted both by Cervantes and Lope de Vega to be the true founder of the national theatre.
His works have been reprinted by the marqués de Fuensanta del Valle in the Colección de libros raros curiosos, vols. xxiii. and xxiv.