Jean M. Auel is an American writer born on 18th February 1936 in Chicago, Illinois. She went to the University of Portland and received her degree of Master in business administration in 1976. She has been awarded many honorary degrees by her alma mater, the ‘University of Maine’ and ‘Mount Vernon College for Women’. Auel started her career as an author much later by the time her five children had grown up. She started poetry and fiction but gained popularity with her ‘Earth’s Children’ series that was all about life in the Paleolithic world.
The first book of the series was ‘The Clan of the Cave Bear’ and was published in 1980. She continued the story of Ayla, a Cro-Magnon girl in five other books. Auel talks about the birth of this idea by stating ‘the story lead to research, the research fired my imagination, and the wealth of material made me decide to write a novel’. The journey to success was however not easy. Her manuscript was rejected by many publishers and she had to rewrite the first book four times. She did a lot of background study for her books that also included taking survival classes like how to build an ice cave and making fire using aboriginal methods thus making her very renowned for her thorough research work.
After a lot of waiting and patience she finally found a publisher who was interested in her book. After her first book received immense acclamation and the sales peaked tremendously, Auel used the finances to travel to prehistoric sites and ruins as part of research for the other books of the series. Jean M. Auel travelled through Europe visiting France, Ukraine and many other places that were part of ‘Old Europe’. She co-sponsored a conference that was held in the ‘School of American Research’ in Santa Fe which mainly discussed the basis of human origins.
‘The Clan of the Cave Bear’ got several nominations for literary awards. It was also a nominee for the reputed ‘American Booksellers Association’ award for the category of ‘best first novel’. A film adaptation of the novel was made with the same name. Three other books were published named ‘The Valley of the Horses’ published in 1982, ‘The Mammoth Hunters’ published in 1985 and ‘The Plains of Passage’ that was published in 1990. The first three books of the Earth’s Children series were instant successes and sold twenty million copies over the world.
Jean M. Auel’s readers had to wait an entire decade for the fifth book. By the time ‘The Shelters of Stone’ was published in 2002, the previous four books had sold almost 34 million copies. The last book is called ‘The Land of the Painted Caves’ and it was released in 2011. Auel is one of the most prominent literary figures of this century. The French minister of ‘Culture and Communication’ honored her by giving her the position of Officer in the ‘Ordre des Arts et des Lettres’ in 2008. She currently resides in Oregon with her husband and is planning to work with ‘lighter’ topics.