Isabel Allende

Photo of Isabel Allende
Chilean author Isabel Allende won worldwide acclaim when her bestselling first novel, The House of the Spirits, was published in 1982. In addition to launching Allende’s career as a renowned author, the book, which grew out of a farewell letter to her dying grandfather, also established her as a feminist force in Latin America’s male-dominated literary world. She has since written nearly 20 more works, including Of Love and Shadows, Eva Luna, Daughter of Fortune, Portrait in Sepia and a trilogy for young readers known as Eagle and Jaguar.

A prominent journalist for Chilean television and magazines in the late 1960s and early 1970s, Allende’s life was forever altered when Gen. Augusto Pinochet led a military coup in 1973 that toppled Chile’s socialist reform government. The Pinochet regime was marked early on by repression and brutality, and Allende became involved with groups offering aid to victims of the regime. Ultimately finding it unsafe to remain in Chile, she fled the country in 1975 with her husband and two children. The family lived in exile in Venezuela for the next 13 years.

In addition to her work as a writer, Allende also devotes much of her time to human rights. Following the death of her daughter in 1992, she established in Paula’s honor a charitable foundation dedicated to the protection and empowerment of women and children worldwide. Since 1987, Allende has made her home in San Rafael, California, with her second husband, attorney and author William Gordon, and their extended families. Allende became a U.S. citizen in 1993 but, as she says, she lives with one foot in California and one foot in Chile.

Author's Comment: People often ask me how much truth there is in my books and how much I have invented. I could swear that every word is true. If it has not happened, it certainly will. I can no longer trace a line between reality and fantasy. Before I was called a liar. Now that I make a living with these lies, I am called a writer. Maybe we should simply stick to poetic truth.

Nationality: Chilean American

Featured series by Isabel Allende

Eagle and Jaguar - Age 10 & up