Hugh James Rose developed such a deep relationship with the country that he became a chronicler of 19th-century Andalusia -
and one of the world's first travel authors - with his works “Untrodden Spain and her Black Country”, published in two volumes in London in 1875, and the two-volume “Among the Spanish People”, which appeared two years later.
Rose's experiences have now been translated into Spanish for the first time (by Victoria León Varela) under the title “Viaje a la Andalucía inexplorada. Bosquejos sobre la vida y el carácter de los españoles del interior (Journey to unexplored Andalusia. Sketches of the life and character of inland Spaniards), published by Centro de Estudios Andaluces and Renacimiento.
The work covers only a part of the four years Rose spent in Andalusia, focusing in particular on his stay in the mining district of Linares, in Jaén province, where he worked as a chaplain for the English community.
After landing in Málaga in September 1873, Rose (1841-1878) explored the in-depth reality surrounding his work. He described the mines and surrounding areas in great detail, including all the processes associated with lead production and their effects on the environment, as well as matters relating to the character of the Spanish miners, the high mortality rate, workers' salaries, religion, leisure time, diet and popular events, such as Carnival and Easter.
Details that stand out are "the dirt, the constant noise as much at night as in the day, the taverns and the garish colours." He sums up the atmosphere as "lead, lead, lead," since "from morning to night you do not hear anything else spoken about, nor see anything else, other than lead."
Rose also compared the character and customs of Spanish miners to their British counterparts, such as "the religious indifference of the character of the Spanish miner".
While the miners slaved away, the Britons were more inclined to rush off and explore a country they had only known in the pages of the books of Miguel de Cervantes, especially “Don Quijote” or the canvases of the country’s great painters. But they travelled in comfort, observing the scene from a distance, while Rose opted to share the harder life of the miners which allowed him to write more truthfully and faithfully about the miners and their living conditions.