Isabel Allende

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Isabel Allende
Isabel Allende
Allende in Barcelona, 2008
Birthday/Birthplace Isabel Allende Llona
(1942-08-02) 2 August 1942
Lima, Peru
Profession(s) Author
Language Spanish
Citizenship Chilean
Citizenship Chilean-American
Notable awards
  • National Prize for Literature
  • Presidential Medal of Freedom
  • Miguel Frías (1962–87)
  • Willie Gordon (1988–2015)
  • Paula (1963–92)
  • Nicolás (b. 1966)
Official Website

Isabel Allende Llona (Lima, Peru, August 2, 1942) is a Chilean writer, who also has American citizenship, a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters since 2004. He won the National Literature Prize of his country in 2010.

Author of bestsellers, the total sale of her books reaches 65 million copies and her works have been translated into 35 languages.It is considered the most widely read living writer of the Spanish language in the world.

Isabel Allende’s Biography

Family and studies

Daughter of the diplomat Tomás Allende Pesse -first brother of Salvador Allende, president of Chile between 1970-1973 (in some publications they are mistakenly cited as brothers) – and of Francisca Llona Barros, he was born in Lima while his father She served as secretary of the Chilean Embassy in Peru and is the eldest of the three children of the couple (her younger brothers are Juan and Francisco) Isabel Allende is of Basque descent on the father’s side and of Portuguese, Basque and Castilian descent His parents separated in 1945, and his mother returned with Isabel and her two brothers to Chile, where she lived from 1946 to 1953.

Between 1953 and 1958, his family resided in Bolivia – where he attended an American school in La Paz – and in Lebanon, where he studied at a private English school.

Marriages and children

He returned to Chile in 1959 and was reunited with Miguel Frías, with whom he married four years later. The couple had two children: Paula (1963) and Nicolás (1967), both born in Santiago.

Following the coup d’état of September 11, 1973 against Salvador Allende and the advent of the dictatorship, he left Chile two years later and went into exile in Venezuela, where he lived until 1988.

The constant trips that he undertook promoting his books made his marriage with Frías come to term. Divorced from her husband, she married lawyer Willie Gordon on July 7, 1988 in San Francisco, from which she separated 27 years later, in 2015. Since 1988 she lives in the United States and in 2003 obtained her citizenship.

Public life

From 1959 to 1965 he worked at the United Nations Organization for Agriculture and Food (FAO) in Santiago de Chile. During the following years, he spent long periods in Europe, residing especially in Brussels and Switzerland.

From 1967 he took part in the writing of the magazine Paula, while he published a large number of articles on various topics. Later, she collaborated for the children’s magazine Mampato, of which she was substitute director between 1973 and 1974, and published two stories for children (Grandma Panchita and Lauchas and lauchones, rats and mice) and a collection of articles entitled Civilize her troglodyte ; He also worked on two Chilean television channels.

At the beginning of the 1970s he ventured into dramaturgy. His play The Ambassador was released in 1971 and in 1973, The Ballad of the Half Hair andam the Transit Soto. Finally, shortly before leaving the country, The Seven Mirrors was released.

In 1975 he went into exile with his family in Venezuela, where he remained for thirteen years. There he worked in the newspaper El Nacional de Caracas and in a secondary school until 1982, when he published La casa de los espiritus. This first novel of his, and the best known, was born from a letter he had started writing to his grandfather in 1981, when he was 99 years old and was on the verge of death. Later, it was adapted to both the cinema with the same title by Bille August and the theater. The second novel, De amor y de sombra (1984) also became another great success and was also brought to the big screen in 1994 by the Venezuelan filmmaker Betty Kaplan. In both novels, she tackles the issue of dictatorship.

In 1988 he traveled to Chile to vote in the October plebiscite, which Pinochet lost and which, the following year, led to elections won by the opposition, grouped in the Concertación. In 1990, with the return of democracy in Chile, she was honored with the Teaching and Cultural Merit Order Gabriela Mistral by President Patricio Aylwin.

His daughter Paula died in 1992, at 28 years of age, because of a porphyria that left her in a coma in a clinic in Madrid. The painful experience prompted her to write Paula, an autobiographical epistolary book published in 1994 where she recounts how her childhood and youth were until the time of exile. Two years later, he founded The Isabel Allende Foundation, in homage to his daughter, who had worked as a volunteer in marginal communities (in Venezuela and Spain) as an educator and psychologist.

Since 1988 he has resided in San Rafael (California) -he obtained US citizenship in 2003-, but has worked normally in a house in Sausalito, a few kilometers further south, where he has written many of his novels. It has been distinguished in the Academy of Arts and Letters of the United States and its motto is «Let your imagination fly and write what is necessary». In May 2007, he was awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of Trento (Italy) in “lingueletterature moderne euroamericane”.

In September 2010, she was awarded the National Prize for Literature of Chile for «the excellence and contribution of her work to literature, which has attracted attention in Chile and abroad, and has also has been recognized by multiple distinctions and has revalued the role of the reader ». The vote, as expected by the controversy that had preceded him, was not unanimous (three votes against two). Isabel Allende became the fourth woman to receive this award, preceded by Gabriela Mistral (1951), Marta Brunet (1961) and Marcela Paz (1982).

The following year, she received the Hans Christian Andersen Literature Award for her qualities as a magic storyteller and her talent for “bewitching” the public, succeeding another woman, the British J.K. Rowling, who won the first edition of this award that since 2010 is delivered in Odense, the birthplace of the famous Danish writer.

More Facts about Isabel Allende

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