A SPANISH woman who inspired a character in Ernest Hemingway’s novel For Whom the Bell Tolls has died aged 91.

Maria Sans met the American writer while working as a volunteer nurse tending wounded members of the International Brigades during the Spanish Civil War.

Hemingway depicts the character of Maria as a beautiful, selfless and helpful young woman in love with his American protagonist Robert Jordan.

Sans had kept her acquaintance with Hemingway quiet until a Catalan researcher established the link in 1996.