Allende in Barcelona, 2008 |
Born | 2 August 1942 (1942-08-02) (age 69)
Lima, Peru |
Occupation | Author, journalist |
Nationality | Chilean, American |
Notable work(s) | The House of the Spirits |
Notable award(s) | National Prize for Literature |
For the Chilean politician and daughter of Salvador Allende, see Isabel Allende (politician).
This name uses Spanishnaming customs; the first or paternal family name is Allende and the second or maternal family name is Llona.
Isabel Allende Llona (born in Lima, Peru, on 2 August 1942) is a Chilean writer with American citizenship. Allende, whose works sometimes contain aspects of the "magic realist" tradition, is famous for novels such as The House of the Spirits (La casa de los espíritus, 1982) and City ofthe 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.
Allende's novels are often based upon her personal experience and pay homage to thelives of women, while weaving together elements of myth and realism. She has lectured and toured many American colleges to teach literature. Fluent in English as a second language, Allende was granted American citizenship in 2003, having lived in California with her American husband since 1989
Allende was born in Lima, Peru, the daughter of Francisca Llona Barros and Tomás Allende, who was at thetime the Chilean ambassador to Peru. Her father was a first cousin of Salvador Allende, President of Chile from 1970 to 1973; so Salvador is her first cousin once removed. Many sources cite Allende as being Salvador Allende's niece (without specifying that the relationship is that Tomas and Salvador are cousins); the confusion stems from Allende herself often referring to Salvador asher "'uncle" (tío) in her private life and public interviews. This is because in Spanish a "first cousin once removed" is translated as "second degree uncle" (tío en segundo grado
Isabel Allende at the Miami Book Fair International in 1990
In 1945, after Tomás had disappeared, Isabel's mother relocated with her three children to Santiago, Chile, where they lived until 1953. Between1953 and 1958, Allende's mother married Ramón Huidobro and moved often. Huidobro was a diplomat appointed to Bolivia and Beirut. In Bolivia, Allende attended a North American private school; and in Beirut, Lebanon she attended an English private school. The family returned to Chile in 1958. Allende was also briefly home-schooled. In her youth, she read widely, particularly the works of WilliamShakespeare.
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 spelltranslating 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 brief while 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 endings to let the heroines find more independence and do good in the world.
Allende and Frías' daughter Paula was born in 1963. In 1966, Allende again returned to Chile and her son Nicolás was born there that year.