Jorge Isaacs Ferrer (April 1, 1837–April 17, 1895) was a Colombian writer, politician and soldier. His only novel, María, became one of the most notable works of the Romantic movement in Spanish literature.
His father was George Henry Isaacs, an English Jew originally from Jamaica. He first settled in Chocó, Colombia, where he made a fortune from gold mining and trade with Jamaica. He then moved to Cali where he converted to Christianity, bought his Colombian citizenship from Simon Bolivar and paid for it in cows. (There is a plaque on a bridge north of Bogota to commemorate this.) He married Manuela Ferrer Scarpetta, daughter of a Spanish Navy officer. He also owned two haciendas near Cali, called "La Manuelita" (named after his wife) and "El Paraíso". The latter would provide the setting for María. "El Paraiso" has been preserved as a museum, with emphasis upon its relation to the novel.
Jorge Isaacs was born in Quibdó in 1837. Little is known about his childhood, but in some of his poems Isaacs portrays the Valley of the Cauca as an idyllic place where he spent his most of it. He was first educated in Santiago de Cali, then in Popayán and, finally, in Bogotá between 1848 and 1852.
Isaacs returned to Santiago de Cali in 1852 without finishing his baccalaureate studies. In 1854 he fought for seven months in the Cauca Campaign against the dictatorship of General José María Melo. In 1856 Isaacs married Felisa González Umaña, who was fourteen years-old at the time and..