The life story of Isabel Allende - one of the world's favourite writers - is as exotic, passionate and inspiring as one of her novels.
Just three when her parents divorced, Isabel Allende was raised in her grandparents' home in Chile. She left school at 16; and married Miguel Frias at 19. She then juggled her work as a journalist, editor, advice columnist and television interviewer with looking after her two children.
But when her cousin the Chilean president Salvador Allende was assassinated in 1973 in Pinochet's right-wing military coup, her life changed profoundly. It was too dangerous to stay in Chile; and she, her husband, and their two children fled to Venezuela. During her impoverished exile, she started writing `The House of the Spirits'. Based on her memories of her family and the political upheaval in her native country, it became an international bestseller and everything changed again...
Isabel Allende was born in 1942, and is the niece of Salvador Allende, who went on to become famous as the elected President of Chile deposed in a CIA-backed coup. She worked as a journalist, playwright and children's writer in Chile until 1974 and then in Venezuela until 1984. Her first novel for adults, `The House of the Spirits', was published in Spanish in 1982, beginning life as a letter to her dying grandfather. It was an international sensation, and ever since all her books have been acclaimed and adored in numberless translations worldwide.