Isabel Allende was born on 2 August 2 1942 in Lima, Peru. The niece and goddaughter of Salvador Allende, the former president of Chile from 1970 to 1973, she started her writing career as a journalist. Several months after her uncle's assassination and the overthrow of Chile's coalition government in 1973, Allende left Chile and found refuge in Venezuela. Her first novel, The House of the Spirits (1985), which arose directly out of her exile, became a worldwide bestseller and critical success. She often weaves together elements of myth and realism, or what is known as "magic realist." Her novels are sometimes based on her own childhood and life experiences. Allende has been called "the world's most widely read Spanish-language author."