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Jean M. Auel

Author of The Clan of the Cave Bear

34+ Works 45,747 Members 794 Reviews 129 Favorited

About the Author

Jean Auel was born on February 18, 1936. For many years Auel considered herself a closet poet, writing in her spare time. She came up with an idea for a short story about a girl who lives with people who are unlike her. This short-story idea became the successful novel, "The Clan of the Cave Bear." show more Auel's considerable research for the novel included field trips to archeological digs that enable her to provide an accurate depiction of humans living in with nature. The cave dweller topic interested many readers, and Auel wrote several additional books. Together, these works comprise the Earth's Children Series. Auel's writing style draws the reader into exciting speculation about prehistoric earth and its adventures. (Bowker Author Biography) show less
Image credit: Copyright Eye On Books.


Works by Jean M. Auel

The Clan of the Cave Bear (1980) 12,740 copies
The Valley of Horses (1982) 8,302 copies
The Mammoth Hunters (1985) 7,864 copies
The Plains of Passage (1980) 7,005 copies
The Shelters of Stone (2002) 6,099 copies
The Land of Painted Caves (2011) 2,804 copies

Associated Works

Mammoths (2007) — Foreword, some editions — 134 copies
The Clan of the Cave Bear [1986 film] (1999) — Original book — 42 copies


adult (108) adventure (215) American literature (84) anthropology (273) Auel (82) Ayla (307) Earth's Children (1,247) ebook (182) epic (100) Europe (175) fantasy (1,010) fiction (4,343) first edition (81) hardcover (203) historical (729) historical fantasy (85) historical fiction (2,666) historical novel (231) history (289) ice age (294) Jean M. Auel (233) Kindle (88) Neanderthal (316) novel (537) Novela (79) own (203) paperback (171) prehistoric (813) prehistoric fiction (405) prehistory (1,075) read (569) Roman (202) romance (504) science fiction (124) series (602) stone age (248) survival (123) to-read (917) unread (138) women (77)

Common Knowledge

Canonical name
Auel, Jean M.
Legal name
Auel, Jean Marie Untinen
Other names
Untinen, Jean Marie (birth name)
Auel, Jean Marie (married name)
USA (birth)
Chicago, Illinois, USA
Places of residence
Portland, Oregon, USA
Beaverton, Oregon, USA
Portland State University
University of Portland
University of Maine
Awards and honors
Publieksprijs voor het Nederlandse Boek (1990)
Honorary Doctorate (University of Maine)
Honorary Doctorate (Mount Vernon College for Women)
Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (2008)
Short biography
Jean Marie Untinen was born on February 18, 1936 in Chicago, Illinois, U.S.A. She was the second of five children. Her father was a house painter, Neil Solomon Untinen, and her mother Martha Wirtanen.

After high school, Jean M. married Ray Bernard Auel (surname pronounced like "owl"). The Auels moved to Portland, Oregon, where Jean M. raised her five children.

In 1964, Jean M. became a member of Mensa. She attended night school while working: she worked as a clerk (1965–1966), a circuit board designer (1966–1973), technical writer (1973–1974), and a credit manager at Tektronix (1974–1976). In 1976, she earned her M.B.A. at Portland State University; since then she has received honorary degrees from the University of Maine and Mount Vernon College for Women.

Three months after graduation, Jean M. still hadn't found a new job that suited her. About that time she got an idea for a short story about a prehistoric girl. She says, "The 'short story' led me to do some research; the research fired my imagination, and the wealth of material made me decide to write a novel. The first draft turned out to be more than 450,000 words and fell into six parts. On rewriting, I realized each of these six parts was a novel in itself. I have used that rough draft as the outline for the series."

In 1977, Jean M. began extensive library research of the Ice Age for her first book in Earth's Children Series. She joined a survival class to learn how to construct an ice cave, and learned primitive methods of making fire, tanning leather, and knapping stone, from aboriginal skills expert Jim Riggs, who Jean M. describes as "the kind of person you could put into one end of a wilderness naked, and he'd come out the other end fed, clothed, and sheltered."

Jean M. proceeded with work on the first novel. She rewrote it entirely four times, and some parts twenty to thirty times until she was satisfied with the end result. This was in September 1978. She had a hard time finding a publisher to take on the series, given the large task ahead - with five more novels pending. In September 1980, when The Clan of the Cave Bear by Jean M. Auel finally saw the light of day, it was an instant success. Within a month more than 100,000 copies had been sold, after which it was on the best-seller lists for eight more months.

After the success of the first book, Jean M. was able to travel to prehistoric sites and to meet many of the experts with whom she had been corresponding. Her research has taken her across the Old Europe from Spain to Ukraine. She has appreciated Atapuerca's discoveries and she has developed a close friendship with the French Dr. Jean Clottes, who was responsible for, among many other things, the exploration of the Cosquer Cave discovered in 1985 and the Chauvet Cave discovered in 1994.

For the future Jean M. says: "I've been working 17 years on this project, and I want to do something else—maybe a mystery, or a thin little literary science fiction book, or something. But, I admit, I've learned a lot. I love the research. I can't think of anything more fun than learning anything I want and earning a living writing about it the way I want to."



Long, poorly edited and without any kind of plot or proper conclusion to the series.

If I had to read about how blue Jondalar’s eyes were, how exotic Ayla’s accent was, or read interminable “introductions again I would have thrown up.

A proper editor could have saved this book and made it into an ok one rather than the mess it is.
73pctGeek | 114 other reviews | Mar 5, 2024 |
Loved the first one, Clan of the Cave Bears. Was super fascinated by how the author wrote the neanderthals and all the lore surrounding their society and culture, and liked Ayla as a protagonist. However, Valley of Horses was unfortunately a huge downgrade in terms of story and characterization and felt like an entirely different series. I did like Ayla's new animal companions, but why did Auel completely abandon everything from Clan of the Cave Bear? Disappointing :(
5 stars for Clan of the Cave Bears, but only 2 for Valley of Horses.… (more)
cactuscat | 1 other review | Mar 1, 2024 |
I think I've read this one about six times between my 12th and my 18th birthday. This book (together with [a:Thea Beckman|491820|Thea Beckman|http://photo.goodreads.com/authors/1233870609p2/491820.jpg]'s [b:Kruistocht in Spijkerbroek|3114666|Kruistocht in spijkerbroek|Thea Beckman|http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1206654386s/3114666.jpg|959221]) fueled my love for history.
jd7h | 285 other reviews | Feb 18, 2024 |



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Sandra Burr Narrator
Geoff Taylor Cover artist
Erkki Hakala Translator
Larry Rostant Cover artist
Mikael Mörling Translator
Hiroko Cover artist
John Emerling Photographer
Paul Bacon Cover designer
G. Snoey Translator
Mikael Mörling Translator
Margareta Eklöf Translator
Kirsti Kattelus Translator
Tiina Ohinmaa Translator
Aulis Rantanen Translator
Maja Ueberle-Pfaff Übersetzer
Christoph Trunk Übersetzer
Kjell Risvik Translator
Ron Wood Cover artist


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