10 Things I learned About Isabel Through Photos

This post is also available in: Spanish

This summer, while I am on maternity leave, we have Candy Pilar Godoy helping at the office. We asked her to write her impressions and here is what she had to say:

This summer, I was given the task of scanning, archiving and organizing photos from Isabel’s many family albums. There were hundreds of photos spanning her entire life, from before Isabel’s birth to present day. Here are 10 things I learned about Isabel from some of the photos I encountered.

1. Isabel has always been a dog lover.

Isabel’s love for animals, especially dogs, was evident when I saw her with her rescue dog Dulce, and the recently departed Olivia. I’m not surprised to see that this love goes way back. Here she is as an infant with family dog Pelvina López Pun.


2. Family has always been important.

Isabel has always had a tightly knit family, even when she was young. She visits her parents in Chile often, and spends much of her time with her son and grandchildren. Here she is with her mother, stepfather and siblings in 1954.


3. Her creativity flows in more ways than one.

Although Isabel is known for her books, her creativity is not limited to the written word. From beadwork, to acting, to playwriting, to cooking, Isabel expresses herself in a myriad of ways. It’s in her blood—her mother is an avid painter to this day.


4. She has always been a hard worker.

Before publishing her first novel in 1982, Isabel worked as a TV personality, a dramatist and a journalist. She was always determined to work, calling herself a true feminist from the start.


5. She was born around politics.

Isabel’s father worked for the Chilean embassy, her stepfather was a diplomat and her uncle was the former President of Chile. She fled Chile after the military coup in 1973 when her family was targeted. Politics has surrounded her through much of her life.


6. She has a great sense of humor.

She is charming, funny, sassy and quick-witted. Her books are a pleasure to read, but seeing her speak in person is truly fantastic.


7. Her relationship with her mother is incredibly strong.

Isabel and her mother still write to each other every day. They have kept all of their letters, which were sent across oceans and borders for years. They confide in each other about everything; they are best friends.


8. She is a proud feminist.

Isabel has been a self-proclaimed feminist since she was very young. She has worked for and with women all of her life. She continues to fight for the education and empowerment of women to this day, through the Isabel Allende Foundation, which focuses on achieving a world in which women and girls enjoy economic and social justice, empowerment and protection.

Here she is with the seven other powerful and successful female flag bearers at the Opening Ceremony of the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin, Italy (left to right): Nobel Peace Prize winner Wangari Maathai of Kenya, American actress and activist Susan Sarandon, human rights activist Somaly Mam of Cambodia, Olympic champion Nawal El Moutawakel of Morocco, Italian actress-icon Sophia Loren, Olympic champion Manuela di Centa of Italy and Olympic champion Maria Mutola of Mozambique.


9. She was involved in the making of her books to movies.

The House of the Spirits and Of Love and Shadows, two books written by Isabel, were both made into feature films. Isabel was involved in both, visiting on set, reading scripts and speaking to the actors portraying her characters. Here she is with the cast and director of The House of the Spirits in 1995.


10. She is an academic.

Isabel has received 14 international honorary doctorates, and has taught Creative Writing and Latin American Literature to many, many, students. She belongs to the Academy of Arts and Letters and has always felt that education is important, and has made it a priority in her own life.


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