Hildegart Rodríguez

Madrid, 1914-1933

Hildegart Rodríguez was a child prodigy, writer, lawyer and sexual reformer. She was murdered by her mother two years into the Spanish Second Republic. In those years she created the Spanish League for Sexual Reform, a eugenic project. She wrote letters about the League to Havelock Ellis, the father of modern sexology. The League disappeared after her death, but Hildegart’s books and articles remain important to study women’s history in the first decades of the twentieth century.


I am read and I am heard even though I am only 16 years old.
Hildegart writes to Havelock Ellis, the father of sexology. She asks him to be her intellectual father. She needs a male mentor who will endorse her in an intellectual world which belongs to men. That father must see a reformist leader in her, with a change project that will inspire a better Spain. Since birth, Hildegart was destined to be the most modern of modern women. She was educated to be a precocious and attentive social observer.
I am a daughter of eugenics, I was responsibly conceived.
Hildegart wants to go far. She wants to regenerate the world she lives in and wants a sexual reform. That is her mission. To fulfil that mission, she has gone beyond the intellectual and geographical borders of Madrid, beyond the patriotic intellectual circles where she isn’t taken very seriously. Her ringlets are more disruptive than her controversial sexual revolution.
My stance is entirely revolutionary.
Hildegart thinks that old men cannot regenerate the homeland. The Republic must belong to the young and she must become the leader of a new, so far utopian, Spain. She reads, she studies, she wants to be ready to lead a sexual revolution. This was her life project.
Some call me the ‘red virgin’, others ‘nature’s greatest creation’.
Healthy, strong and engaged, in a few weeks she will die, killed by her own mother. She knew nothing whilst she wrote to her teacher and strove to overcome obstacles, hoping to work with some authority. The political reform that she so believed in would fail. Her writing and her projects disappeared quickly after her assassination. In a few years the modern women who speaks to us in each ‘cartavivas’ entry will disappear too. Hildegart’s life came to an end. The war in Spain and Europe would, on the other hand, start soon.

ACTRESS: Sandra Escacena | SOURCE: Spanish Collections, British Library, London | WRITTEN AND DIRECTED BY: Paula Ortiz y Nuria Capdevila-Argüelles | PRODUCTION: Nuria Capdevila-Argüelles | DIRECTOR OF PHOTOGRAPHY: Pedro Valero | SET MANAGER: Jordi Capella | COSTUME DESIGNER: Arantxa Ezquerro | GRAPHIC DESIGN AND ILLUSTRATIONS: Jesús Bosqued | CALLIGRAPHY: Ana Rosés |  HAIR AND MAKEUP ARTIST: Lavicky | POST PRODUCTION: Jaume-E. Vilaseca | UNIVERSITY-LEVEL COORDINATION: Lydia Sánchez Gómez | TECHNICAL DIRECTOR: Sergio Villanueva Baselga | CAV UB STUDENTS – ASSISTANTS TO DIRECTOR: Iria Louzao, Laia Marín. PRODUCTION ASSISTANTS: Cristina Espinosa, Bárbara Prohens. CAMERA ASSISTANT: Edgar Ortiz. SET INTERNSHIP: Joana Fornós Bo. COSTUMES ASSISTANT: Marisa Montoya. BOOM OPERATOR: Marc Vilalta. SOUND DESIGN: Marc Vilalta. ELECTRICIANS: Gadea Arce, Dani Molina. EDITING: Xan Costa. COMPOSITION: Eva Gómez. EDITING: Roberto Barros. MAKING OF: Fran Novo, Víctor Bañeras, Marc Villafranca. STILL PHOTOGRAPHY: Jorge Franganillo | UNIVERSITY OF EXETER STUDENTS – Cartaviva 1: Molly Smith. Cartaviva 2 y 3: Elena Browning. Cartaviva 4: Hannah Cumpson