María Luisa Bombal was born to a wealthy Chilean family that moved to Paris in 1922. She attended the Lycée La Bruyère and studied literature and philosophy at the Sorbonne. After a brief return to Chile in 1931–33, she fled depression and an unhappy marriage for Buenos Aires, Argentina, where she joined a literary circle that including Jorge Luis Borges and Pablo Neruda. She emigrated to the USA in 1940 and lived there for three decades before returning again to Chile.
Her first novel, La última niebla (The House of Mist), was published in 1935. Bombal wrote several other innovative novels as well as short stories, often featuring heroines who create fantasy worlds to escape from unfulfilling love relationships and restricted social roles. Her work influenced many later authors of magic realism. Feminist critics and writers have given her works wider attention in recent years.