While none of their works can be considered direct ancestors of a Spanish literary tradition, it was out of the cultural milieu fostered by such intellectual energy that the first written manifestations of a Spanish literature proper arise.
In the Enlightenment era of the 18th century, notable works include the prose of Fray Benito Jerónimo Feijoo, Gaspar Melchor de Jovellanos, and José Cadalso; the lyric of Juan Meléndez Valdés, Tomás de Iriarte and Félix María Samaniego), and the theater, with Leandro Fernández de Moratín, Ramón de la Cruz and Vicente García de la Huerta.
In Romanticism (beginning of the 19th century) important topics are: the poetry of José de Espronceda and other poets; prose; the theater, with Ángel de Saavedra (Duke of Rivas), José Zorrilla, and other authors. A group of younger writers, among them Miguel de Unamuno, Pío Baroja, and José Martínez Ruiz (Azorín), made changes to literature's form and content.
In Realism (end of the 19th century), which is mixed with Naturalism, important topics are the novel, with Juan Valera, José María de Pereda, Benito Pérez Galdós, Emilia Pardo Bazán, Leopoldo Alas (Clarín), Armando Palacio Valdés, and Vicente Blasco Ibáñez; poetry, with Ramón de Campoamor, Gaspar Núñez de Arce, and other poets; the theater, with José Echegaray, Manuel Tamayo y Baus, and other dramatists; and the literary critics, emphasizing Menéndez Pelayo. By the year 1914—the year of the outbreak of the First World War and of the publication of the first major work of the generation's leading voice, José Ortega y Gasset—a number of slightly younger writers had established their own place within the Spanish cultural field.
Later, primitive love ballads and heroic tales would have arisen.
These popular, vernacular forms would have rarely if ever been written down.