Isabel Allende Biography & Facts
Isabel Angélica Allende Llona (American Spanish: [isaˈβel aˈʝende] (listen); born in Lima, 2 August 1942) is a Chilean writer. Allende, whose works sometimes contain aspects of the genre magical realism, is known for novels such as The House of the Spirits (La casa de los espíritus, 1982) and City of the Beasts (La ciudad de las bestias, 2002), which have been commercially successful. Allende has been called "the world's most widely read Spanish-language author." In 2004, Allende was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and in 2010, she received Chile's National Literature Prize. President Barack Obama awarded her the 2014 Presidential Medal of Freedom.Allende's novels are often based upon her personal experience and historical events and pay homage to the lives of women, while weaving together elements of myth and realism. She has lectured and toured many U.S. colleges to teach literature. Fluent in English, Allende was granted United States citizenship in 1993, having lived in California since 1989, first with her American husband (from whom she is now divorced).
Allende was born in Lima, Peru, the daughter of Francisca Llona Barros called "Doña Panchita" (the daughter of Agustín Llona Cuevas and Isabel Barros Moreira) and Tomás Allende, who was at the time a second secretary at the Chilean embassy. Her father was a first cousin of Salvador Allende, President of Chile from 1970 to 1973.In 1945, after Tomás left them, Isabel's mother relocated with her three children to Santiago, Chile, where they lived until 1953. In 1953 Allende's mother married Ramón Huidobro and the family moved often. Huidobro was a diplomat appointed to Bolivia and Beirut. In Bolivia, Allende attended an American private school; and in Beirut, Lebanon, she attended an English private school. The family returned to Chile in 1958, where Allende was also briefly home-schooled. In her youth, she read widely, particularly the works of William Shakespeare.In 1970, Salvador Allende appointed Huidobro as ambassador to Argentina.While living in Chile, Allende finished her secondary studies and met engineering student Miguel Frías whom she married in 1962. They had two children, a son and a daughter.
Reportedly, "Allende married early, into an Anglophile family and a kind of double life: at home she was the obedient wife and mother of two; in public she became, after a spell translating Barbara Cartland, a moderately well-known TV personality, a dramatist and a journalist on a feminist magazine."From 1959 to 1965, Allende worked with the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization in Santiago, then in Brussels, and elsewhere in Europe. For a short time in Chile, she also had a job translating romance novels from English to Spanish. However, she was fired for making unauthorized changes to the dialogue of the heroines to make them sound more intelligent, as well as altering the Cinderella ending to allow the heroines to find more independence and do good in the world.Allende's and Frías's daughter Paula was born in 1963; she died in 1992. In 1966, Allende again returned to Chile, where her son Nicolás was born that year.
Exile in Venezuela
In 1973, Salvador Allende was overthrown in a coup led by General Augusto Pinochet. Isabel found herself arranging safe passage for people on the "wanted lists", which she continued to do until her mother and stepfather narrowly escaped assassination. When she herself was added to the list and began receiving death threats, she fled to Venezuela, where she stayed for 13 years. It was during this time that Allende wrote her debut novel The House of the Spirits (1982). Allende has stated that her move from Chile made her a serious writer: "I don’t think I would be a writer if I had stayed in Chile. I would be trapped in the chores, in the family, in the person that people expected me to be." Allende believed that, being female in a patriarchal family, she was not expected to be a "liberated" person. Her history of oppression and liberation is thematically found in much of her fiction, where women contest the ideals of patriarchal leaders. In Venezuela she was a columnist for El Nacional, a major national newspaper. In 1978, she began a temporary separation from Miguel Frías. She lived in Spain for two months, then returned to her marriage.
She divorced her first husband, Miguel Frías, in 1987. During a visit to California on a book tour in 1988, Allende met her second husband, California attorney and novelist William C. "Willie" Gordon. They married in July 1988. In 1994, she was awarded the Gabriela Mistral Order of Merit, the first woman to receive this honor. Allende resides in San Rafael, California. Most of her family lives nearby, with her son, his second wife, and her grandchildren just down the hill, in the house she and her second husband vacated. She separated from Gordon in April 2015.In 2006 she was one of the eight flag bearers at the Opening Ceremony of the Winter Olympics in Turin, Italy. She presented the talk Tales of Passion at TED 2007. In 2008, Allende received the honorary degree Doctor of Humane Letters from San Francisco State University for her "distinguished contributions as a literary artist and humanitarian." In 2014, Allende received the honorary degree of Doctor of Letters from Harvard University for her contributions to literature.
In 2019 she married Roger Cukras, a lawyer from New York.Although not as openly political as some of her contemporary writers, she expressed contempt for Donald Trump and his policies following his election in 2016, and she later endorsed Democrat Joe Biden during the 2020 presidential election. She has also regularly defended the record of her father's cousin, Salvador Allende.
Allende started the Isabel Allende Foundation on 9 December 1996, in honor of her daughter, Paula Frías Allende, who fell into a coma after complications of the disease porphyria led to her hospitalization. Paula was 29 years old when she died in 1992. The foundation is "dedicated to supporting programs that promote and preserve the fundamental rights of women and children to be empowered and protected."
Beginning in 1967, Allende was on the editorial staff of Paula magazine and the children's magazine Mampato from 1969 to 1974, where she later became the editor. 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 from 1970 to 1974. As a journalist, she once sought an interview with poet Pablo Neruda. Neruda agreed to the interview, and he told her that she had too much imagination to be a journalist and should be a novelist instead. He also advised her to compile her satirical columns in book form.: W4 She did so, and this became her first published book. In 1973, Allende's .... Discover the Isabel Allende popular books. Find the top 100 most popular Isabel Allende books.