Name at birth: Jean Marie Untinen
Jean Auel is the author of the Earth's Children series of six novels, the first of which is The Clan of the Cave Bear, published in 1980. The books tell the epic story of Ayla, a prehistoric feminist Cro-Magnon who interacts with European Neanderthals. Before she was a best-selling novelist, Auel worked for an Oregon electronics firm, raised kids and went to night school. After earning her Masters in Business Administration from Portland State University (1976), she began research into the Ice Age as background for her books. The Clan of the Cave Bear was a runaway bestseller and guaranteed the success of the sequels: The Valley of Horses (1982); The Mammoth Hunters (1985); The Plains of Passage (1990); and The Shelters of Stone (2002). Informed by meticulous research into anthropology and archaeology, Auel's books have sold millions of copies and spawned one movie, 1986's The Clan of the Cave Bear, starring Daryl Hannah as Ayla. The final book in the series, The Land of the Painted Caves is due out in 2011.
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