Isabel Allende

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For the Chilean politician and daughter of Salvador Allende, see Isabel Allende (politician)
Isabel Allende
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Isabel Allende

Isabel Allende Llona (born August 2, 1942) is a Chilean writer whose books have been translated into many languages. She is one of the most popular novelists in the world today, selling over 35 million copies and translated in 27 different languages.

Allende was born in Lima, Peru, to diplomat Tom᳠Allende, the cousin of Salvador Allende, the President of Chile from 1970 to 73. In 1945, her parents separated, and her mother relocated with their three children to Chile, where they lived until 1953.

The family later moved to Bolivia and then to Lebanon. While in Bolivia, Allende attended an American private school, and while in Lebanon a British private school in Beirut. She returned to Chile in 1958 to complete her secondary education, and there she met her first husband, Miguel Fr�, whom she married in 1962.

From 1959 to 1965, Allende worked with the United Nations' FAO in Santiago, and later in Brussels, Belgium, and elsewhere in Europe. Her daughter Paula was born in 1963. In 1966, Allende returned to Chile, and her son Nicol᳠was born there that year.

Beginning in 1967, Allende was on the editorial staff for Paula magazine, and from 1973 to 1974 for the children's magazine Mampato. She published two children's stories, "La abuela Panchita" and "Lauchas y Lauchones," as well as a collection of articles, Civilice a su troglodita. She also worked in Chilean television production for channels 7 and 13.

In 1973, Allende's play El embajador debuted in Santiago. On September 11 that same year, her uncle was overthrown in the wake of a violent coup and died of his wounds (whether from murder or suicide is a matter of controversy). In 1975, Isabel Allende went into exile in Venezuela. While there, she worked for the Caracas newspaper El Nacional and as a teacher in a secondary school.

In 1981, Allende learned that her grandfather, age 99, was on his deathbed. She started writing him a letter that later evolved into a book manuscript, The House of Spirits (1982). The book was a great success and was later made into a film (The House of the Spirits, 1993) by Danish director Bille August. The movie starred Jeremy Irons, Meryl Streep, Winona Ryder, Glenn Close and Antonio Banderas.

During a visit to California in 1988, Allende met her current husband, Willie Gordon, and has lived since then in San Rafael. In 2003 she obtained U.S. citizenship.

Allende's book Paula (1994) is a stirring memoir of her childhood in Santiago, and her years in exile. It was written in the form of a letter to her daughter Paula, who lay in a coma in the hospital (she died of porphyria in 1992). In addition to The House of Spirits and Paula, her books include:

  • La gorda de porcelana (1984)
  • Of Love and Shadows (1984)
  • Eva Luna (1987)
  • The Stories of Eva Luna (1989)
  • The Infinite Plan (1991)
  • Afrodite (1997)
  • Daughter of Fortune (1999).
  • Portrait in Sepia (2000)
  • City of the Beasts (2002)
  • My Invented Country (2003)
  • Kingdom of the Golden Dragon (2004)
  • Forest of the Pygmies (2005)
  • Zorro (2005)

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