Isabel Allende

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Isabel Allende
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{{other uses|Isabel Allende (disambiguation)}}{{Spanish name|Allende|Llona}}{{Use dmy dates|date=December 2011}}

| birth_place = Lima, PeruAuthor |journalist}}| language = Spanish| nationality = Chilean| citizenship = Chilean-American| spouse = {hide}ubl
| Miguel Frías (1962–87)
| Willie Gordon (1988–2015)
{edih}| children = {{ubl
| Paula (1963–92)
| Nicolás (b. 1966)
}}| relatives = Allende family| awards = {{ubl
| National Prize for Literature
| Presidential Medal of Freedom
weblink}}| signature = Isabel Allende signature firma.svg}}Isabel Allende ({{IPA-es|isaˈβel aˈʝende|lang|Isabel Allende.ogg}}; born August 2, 1942) is a Chilean writer.WEB,weblink Isabel Allende: "Big Think Interview with Isabel Allende" June 16, 2010", Big Think, 24 November 2014, Isabel Allende: "¡Escribo bien! Por lo menos admítanme eso" Emol, 17 December 2009 Vengo a Chile por lo menos tres veces al año, me comunico con Chile todos los días a través de Skype con mi mamá, estoy enterada de lo que pasa y cuando me preguntan 'qué eres' digo automáticamente 'chilena'. Vivo en América, pero me siento profundamente chilena en la manera de vivir, de ser: soy mandona, metete, dominante, intrusa, hospitalaria, tribal. (Isabel Allende) Allende, whose works sometimes contain aspects of the genre of "magical realism", is famous 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."WEB,weblink Latin American Herald Tribune - Isabel Allende Named to Council of Cervantes Institute,, 11 November 2017, In 2004, Allende was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters,WEB,weblink American Academy of Arts and Letters – Current Members,, 2012-12-21, yes,weblink" title="">weblink 24 June 2016, and in 2010, she received Chile's National Literature Prize.WEB,weblink Isabel Allende gana el Premio Nacional de Literatura tras intenso lobby | Cultura, La Tercera, 1990-01-01, 2012-12-21, yes,weblink" title="">weblink 28 July 2013, dmy-all, President Barack Obama awarded her the 2014 Presidential Medal of Freedom.WEB,weblink President Obama Announces the Presidential Medal of Freedom Recipients, 11 November 2014, 10 November 2014, The White House, 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 as a second language, Allende was granted United States citizenship in 1993, having lived in California since 1989, first with her U.S husband (from whom she is now separated).


Allende was born Isabel Allende Llona in Lima, Peru, the daughter of Francisca Llona Barros 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; thus the former head of state is her first cousin once removed.Review: The undefeated: A life in writing: Often compared to Gabriel García Márquez, Isabel Allende is more interested in telling stories about her own life, her difficult upbringing, marriage and her daughter's death. Aida Edemariam. The Guardian (London) – Final Edition. GUARDIAN REVIEW PAGES; Pg. 11. 28 April 2007 Isabel Allende websiteShirley Christian, Santiago Journal; Allende's Widow Meditates Anew on a Day in '73, The New York Times. Section A; Page 4, Column 3; Foreign Atlas. 5 June 1990Veronica Ross, Sewing didn't cut it for Inés, Guelph Mercury (Ontario, Canada). BOOKS; Pg. C5. 3 March 2007 Many sources cite Allende as being Salvador Allende's niece (without specifying that the relationship is that Tomas and Salvador are cousins);International: Chilean government rejects state funeral for Pinochet as thousands queue to pay respects: Body to be cremated amid fears of attacks on tomb: Capital quiet after victory parade turns into a riot. Jonathan Franklin, Santiago. The Guardian (London). GUARDIAN INTERNATIONAL PAGES; Pg. 14. 12 December 2006 the confusion stems from Allende herself often referring to Salvador as her "uncle" (tío) in her private life and public interviews.Isabel Allende: A Critical Companion. Karen Castellucci Cox; Greenwood Press, 2003. 184 pgs. p. 2-4. This is because in Spanish a "first cousin once removed" is translated as "second degree uncle" (tío en segundo grado).In 1945, after Tomás disappeared, Isabel's mother relocated with her three children to Santiago, Chile, where they lived until 1953.Mirta Ojito, A Writer's Heartbeats Answer Two Calls. 28 July 2003. The New York Times The article notes that Allende has been told that her father left them and that due to Chile's anti-divorce laws, it was impossible for Allende's mother to divorce Tomás. Her mother, 83 when the article was published, and her stepfather, 87 at the time, have lived together for 57 years, but they are still not recognized in Chile as married.WEB,weblink Isabel Allende -,, 11 November 2017, Between 1953 and 1958, Allende's mother was married to Ramón Huidobro and 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. 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, Chile, then in Brussels, Belgium, 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.Alexandra Alter, Isabel Allende on Superstition and Memory. The Wall Street Journal, p. W4, 23 April 2010. "... she often changed the dialogue and endings to make the heroines seem smarter."Allende and Frías's daughter Paula was born in 1963. In 1966, Allende again returned to Chile and her son Nicolás was born there that year."The CIA-backed military coup in September 1973 (that brought Augusto Pinochet to power) changed everything" for Allende, because "her name meant she was caught up in finding safe passage for those on the wanted lists" (helping until her mother and stepfather, a diplomat in Argentina, 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.A Writer's Heartbeats Answer Two Calls. The New York Times. 28 July 2003 The New York Times article notes that she left Chile in 1975. In Venezuela she was a columnist for El Nacional, a major national newspaper.WEB,weblink Isabel Allende: "mis mejores amigos son venezolanos",, 11 November 2017, In 1978, she began a temporary separation from Miguel Frías. She lived in Spain for two months, then returned to her marriage.WEB,weblink Isabel Allende -,, 11 November 2017,

Current life

She divorced her first husband Miguel Frias in 1987. During a book tour visit to California in 1988, Allende met her second husband, (twice divorced) attorney Willie Gordon. She married him in July, 1988. weblink In 1994, she was awarded the Gabriela Mistral Order of Merit, the first woman to receive this honor. Allende currently lives in San Rafael, California. Most of her family lives near her, with her son living "with his second wife and her grandchildren just down the hill; her son and his family live in the house she and her second husband, San Francisco lawyer and novelist William C. Gordon, vacated." She separated from Gordon in April 2015.NEWS,weblink Isabel Allende, The Japanese Lover: 'Fiction comes from the womb, not the brain' - book review, Walker, Tim, 15 November 2015, The Independent, 16 January 2016, In 2006, she was one of the eight flag bearers at the Opening Ceremony of the Winter Olympics in Turin, Italy.WEB,weblink TEDtalks: Isabel Allende Tells Tales of Passion, Isabel Allende, 24 November 2014, 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."San Francisco State University 2008 Commencement Program In 2014, Allende received the honorary degree of Doctor of Letters from Harvard University for her contributions to literature.


Allende started the Isabel Allende Foundation on December 9, 1996 in honor of her daughter, Paula Frías Allende, who fell into a coma after complications of the disease porphyria led to her hospitalization.WEB,weblink After Paula: An Interview with Isabel Allende, 24 November 2014, Paula was 29 years old when she died in 1992.WEB,weblink Isabel Allende Foundation, 24 November 2014, The foundation is "dedicated to supporting programs that promote and preserve the fundamental rights of women and children to be empowered and protected."The list 101 top leaders of the Latino community in the U.S; Cover story. Allen, Kerri; Miller, Corina; Socorro, Dalia; Stewart, Graeme. Latino Leaders Pg. 24(27) Vol. 8 No. 4 {{ISSN|1529-3998}}. 1 June 2007'In 1995, I created the Isabel Allende Foundation to support the empowerment of women and girls worldwide. For over 20 years, I have lectured internationally about women's rights and the empowerment of women; Latin American and world politics; Chile; writing and the creative process; spirituality; and my own work.'{{citation needed|date=December 2015}}

Literary career

File:Girl Power at TED conference 2007 by jurvetson.jpg|thumb|250px|Isabel Allende (in red, 3rd L to R), 2007, at TED in California, flanked (L to R) by Susan Cohen, Lakshmi Pratury and Tracy ChapmanTracy ChapmanBeginning in 1967, Allende was on the editorial staff of Paula magazine, and of the children's magazine Mampato from 1969 to 1974, where she later became the editor.Life at a glance. The Guardian (London). Guardian Saturday Pages; Pg. 6. 5 February 2000 She published two children's stories, "La Abuela Panchita" ("Grandmother 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 (humorous programs) and 13 from 1970 to 1974. As a journalist, she once sought an interview with Pablo Neruda, a notable Chilean poet. While Neruda agreed to the interview, 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.Wall Street Journal p. W4, 23 April 2010: "... interviewed Pablo Neruda, the poet told her that she'd make a better novelist than a reporter. "I think he saw that I was a liar. As a journalist I could not be objective. I would make up stories ... At the time I was hurt because he said I was the worst journalist."" She did so, and this became her first published book. In 1973, Allende's play El Embajador played in Santiago, a few months before she was forced to flee the country due to the coup.During her time in Venezuela, Allende was a freelance journalist for El Nacional in Caracas from 1976 to 1983 and an administrator of the Marrocco School in Caracas from 1979 to 1983.In 1981, while in Caracas, Allende received a phone call informing her that her 99-year-old grandfather was near death, and she sat down to write him a letter, hoping to thereby "keep him alive, at least in spirit." The letter evolved into a book, The House of the Spirits (1982); the intent of this work was to exorcise the ghosts of the Pinochet dictatorship. The book was rejected by numerous Latin American publishers, but finally published in Buenos Aires. The book soon ran to more than two dozen editions in Spanish, and was translated into a score of languages. The book was a great success; Allende was compared to Gabriel García Márquez, as an author in the style known as magical realism.BOOK, Levine, Linda Gould, Isabel Allende, 2002, Twane Publishers, New York, 114–133, Allende's books are known for their vivid storytelling. Although Allende is often cited as a practitioner of magical realism, her works also display elements of post-Boom literature, and, as such, her style cannot be described as pure magical realism. Allende also holds to a very strict writing routine.LATIN AMERICA'S SCHEHERAZADE; Drawing on dreams, myths, and memories, Chilean novelist Isabel Allende weaves fantastical tales in which reality and the absurd intersect. Fernando González. The Boston Globe MAGAZINE; Pg. 14. 25 April 1993 She writes on a computer, working Monday through Saturday, 9:00 A.M. to 7:00 P.M. "I always start on January 8," Allende has stated; "a tradition she began in 1981 with the letter she wrote to her dying grandfather that would become The House of the Spirits."Allende, heroine 'Ines' are kindred spirits. Javier Erik Olvera. Inside Bay Area (California). BAY AREA LIVING; Home and Garden. 25 November 2006.Allende's book Paula (1995) is a memoir of her childhood in Santiago, Chile and the years she spent in exile. It is written as an anguished letter to her daughter, who suffered from porphyria—a metabolic disorder that is rarely fatal. In 1991, an error in Paula's medication resulted in severe brain damage, leaving her in a persistent vegetative state.MAGAZINE, Hornblower, Margot, 10 July 1995, Grief and Rebirth,weblink Time, 146, 2, 65, 2 Nov 2017, But Allende spent months at Paula's bedside before learning that a hospital mishap had caused irreversible brain damage. Allende had Paula moved to a hospital in California where she died on December 6, 1992. The book, as much a celebration of Allende's turbulent life as a chronicle of Paula's death, was a best seller in the United States, Latin America and Europe.Allende's novels have been translated into more than 30 languages and have sold more than 56 million copies.This old "House" opened a lot of doors for author Allende; Theater preview. Misha Berson. The Seattle Times ROP ZONE; Ticket; Pg. H44. 1 June 2007Wall Street Journal p. W4, 23 April 2010 There are three movies based on her novels currently in production—Aphrodite, Eva Luna and Gift for a Sweetheart. Her 2008 book, The Sum of Our Days, is a memoir. It focuses on her recent life with her family, which includes her grown son, Nicolás; second husband, William Gordon; and several grandchildren. A novel set in New Orleans, Island Beneath the Sea, was published in 2010. In 2011 came El cuaderno de Maya (Maya's Notebook), in which the setting alternates between Berkeley, California, and Chiloé in Chile, as well as Las Vegas, Nevada.


Allende has won numerous awards in Chile and around the world, (see below), and recently was called a "literary legend" by Latino Leaders Magazine, which in its 2007 article named Allende the third most influential Latino leader in the world.Despite commercial success, her literature has drawn some negative criticism. In her novel Yo-Yo Boing, Giannina Braschi declared that "Isabel Allende is killing García Márquez a little more each day the same way Michael Jackson's sisters are killing Michael Jackson."WEB,weblink Isabel Allende -,, 11 November 2017, In an article published in Entre paréntesis, Roberto Bolaño called Allende's literature anemic, comparing it to "a person on his deathbed," and later called her "a writing machine, not a writer".Bolaño, Roberto. Entre paréntesis, page 102: Es decir la literatura de Allende es mala, pero está viva, es anémica, como muchos latinoamericanos, pero está viva. No va a vivir mucho tiempo, como muchos enfermos, pero ahora está viva. Literary critic Harold Bloom adds his opinion that Allende only "reflects a determinate period, and that afterwards everybody will have forgotten her".Los éxitos y las críticas Clarín. 9 February 2003 Isabel Allende es una muy mala escritora y sólo refleja un período determinado. Después todos se olvidarán de ella. (Harold Bloom)Me parece una mala escritora, simple y llanamente, y llamarla escritora es darle cancha. Ni siquiera creo que Isabel Allende sea una escritora, es una escribidora. (Roberto Bolaño)Isabel Allende (Bloom's Modern Critical Views) {{ISBN|0-7910-7039-5}} {{ISBN|978-0-7910-7039-0}} Novelist Gonzalo Contreras says that "she commits a grave error, to confuse commercial success with literary quality".Isabel Allende critica duramente a escritores chilenos y desata polémica, La Tercera. 9 February 2003Ella incurre en un gravísimo error, confundir éxito de ventas con calidad literaria. (Gonzalo Contreras)Allende said to El Clarín that she recognizes that she has not always received good reviews in Chile, stating that Chilean intellectuals "detest" her. However, she disagrees with these assessments, and has been quoted saying:}}Amongst her more positive reviews, it has been said{{By whom|date=August 2010}} "Allende's impact on Latin American and world literature cannot be overestimated." The Los Angeles Times has called Allende "a genius," and she has received many international awards, including the prestigious Dorothy and Lillian Gish Prize, granted to writers "who have contributed to the beauty of the world."


{{external media | width = 210px | align = right | headerimage= (File:Isabel allende.jpg|210px)Isabel Allende: Tales of passion, 18:00, TED (conference)>TED Talks (2007)id=q63gKvEFykU#t=4m10s|title=Isabel Allende, "Maya's Notebook"}}, 56:00, talk begins at 4:10, UC Berkeley Events (2013)OZB94Q4Wkl8National Geographic Channel>National Geographic (2013)}}
  • Novel of the Year (Chile, 1983)
  • Panorama Literario (Chile, 1983)
  • Author of the Year (Germany, 1984)
  • Book of the Year (Germany, 1984)
  • Grand Prix d'Evasion (France, 1984)
  • Grand Prix de la Radio Télévision Belge (Point de Mire, 1985)
  • Best Novel (Mexico, 1985)
  • Colima Literary Prize (Mexico, 1986)
  • Quality Paperback Book Club New Voice (United States; 1986 nominee)
  • Author of the Year (Germany, 1986)
  • XV Premio Internazionale I Migliori Dell'Anno (Italy, 1987)
  • Premio Mulheres a la Mejor Novela Extranjera (Portugal, 1987)
  • Los Angeles Times Book Prize nominee (United States, 1987)
  • Library Journal's Best Book (United States, 1988)
  • Before Columbus Foundation Award (United States, 1989)
  • Orden al Mérito Docente y Cultural Gabriela Mistral (Chile, 1990)
  • XLI Bancarella Literary Prize (Italy, 1993)
  • Independent Foreign Fiction Award (England, June–July 1993)
  • Brandeis University Major Book Collection Award (United States, 1993)
  • Feminist of the Year Award, The Feminist; Majority Foundation (United States, 1994)
  • Chevalier des Artes et des Lettres distinction (France, 1994)
  • Critics' Choice (United States, 1996)
  • Books to Remember, American Library Assoc. (United States, 1996)
  • Hispanic Heritage Award in Literature (United States, 1996).WEB, Hispanic Heritage Awards for Literature,weblink Hispanic Heritage Foundation, 11 January 2011,
  • Malaparte Amici di Capri (Italy, 1998)
  • Donna Citta Di Roma (Italy, 1998)
  • Dorothy and Lillian Gish Prize (United States, 1998)
  • Sara Lee Foundation (United States, 1998)
  • Premio Iberoamericano de Letras José Donoso, University of Talca (Chile, 2003)
  • Premio Honoris Causa, Università di Trento en "lingue e letteratura moderne euroamericane" (Trento, Italy, May 2007)
  • Chilean National Prize for Literature (Chile, 2010)
  • Library of Congress Creative Achievement Award for Fiction (USA, 2010)
  • Hans Christian Andersen Literature Award (Denmark, 2012)WEB, Isabel Allende Wins the Hans Christian Andersen Literature Award,weblink Hispanically Speaking News, 28 June 2011, 16 August 2012, yes,weblink" title="">weblink 27 June 2012, dmy-all, WEB,weblink Allende fÃ¥r H.C. Andersen-pris, Nyhederne, Trine Fisker, 28 June 2011, Danish, 21 December 2012,
  • Presidential Medal of Freedom (United States, 2014)WEB,weblink Obama awards Presidential Medal of Freedom to 18, San Francisco Chronicle, 24 November 2014,
  • Anisfield-Wolf Book Award: Lifetime Achievement (United States, 2017)WEB,weblink Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards - The 82nd Annual, Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards - The 82nd Annual, 11 November 2017,
  • National Book Award: Lifetime Achievement Award for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters (United States, 2018)WEB,weblink Lifetime-Achievement-Award-for Distinguished-Contribution-to-American+Letters, 20 November 2017,


Allende, who acquired fluency in English from a young age, famously had the following to say about her connection to her native language: "I think in Spanish, I dream in Spanish, I pray in Spanish, I make love in Spanish. I would feel ridiculous panting in English." [interviewer laughs] (BBC interview, aired Nov. 22, 2018)




  • Paula (1994) Paula {{ISBN|0060927216}}Paula
  • Aphrodite: A Memoir of the Senses (1998) Afrodita
  • My Invented Country: A Memoir (2003) Mi país inventado
  • The Sum of Our Days: A Memoir (2008) La suma de los días

Recording from the Library of Congress

Isabel Allende reading from her work and interviewed by Georgette M. Dorn (1997). weblink

Other contributions

See also




  • Main, Mary. Isabel Allende, Award-Winning Latin American Author. Berkeley Heights, NJ: Enslow Pub., 2005. – {{ISBN|0-7660-2488-1}}
  • Bautista Gutierrez, Gloria and Norma Corrales-Martin. Pinceladas Literarias Hispanoamericanas. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley, 2004.

External links

{{Commons|Isabel Allende}} {{Isabel Allende}}{{Authority control}}

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