Isabel AllendeIsabel Allende

Author and Journalist

San Francisco State University

Noted author and journalist Isabel Allende is considered the first internationally successful female Latin American author. Her books have been translated into 30 languages and sold more than 51 million copies, extending her influence around the world. Her commitment to s​ocial justice and human rights is reflected in her writing and in her Isabel Allende Foundation, dedicated to the memory of her daughter, Paula, who passed away in 1992. The Foundation grants funds to organizations that promote the education, well-being and empowerment of women and children.

Now residing in San Rafael with her second husband, attorney and novelist William Gordon, Ms. Allende was born in Lima, Peru, to Francisca Llona and Tomás Allende, the Chilean ambassador to Peru, and a cousin of Salvador Allende, the former Chilean president. During the early 1960s, she worked with the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization.When the 1973 military coup occurred in Chile that brought Augusto Pinochet to power, she fled to Venezuela because of the death threats she received.

Her literary career began in 1967 when she worked for Paula Magazine, and the children’s magazine Mampato. In 1981, when Ms. Allende learned that her grandfather, aged 99, was on his deathbed, she wrote him a letter that evolved into a book, The House of the Spirits (1982).

Her books are known for their vivid storytelling, use of emotive words and the magical realism style of writing. Her book, Paula (1995), is a memoir of her childhood in Santiago and her years in exile. It was written in the form of a letter to her daughter. Among her other books are Eva Luna (1987), Aphrodite (1998), Zorro (2005) and Ines of My Soul (2006). She has received many awards, including the prestigious Dorothy and Lillian Gish Prize and the Gabriela Mistral Order of Merit.

In recognition of her personal commitment to social justice, education and literature, the Board of Trustees of the California State University and San Francisco State University are proud to confer upon Isabel Allende the honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters.