Author Jean Marie Auel (surname pronounced like "owl") is the second of five children of Neil Solomon Untinen, a housepainter, and Martha Wirtanen. She and her husband, Ray Bernard Auel, have five children and live in Portland, Oregon.
Auel has been a member of Mensa since 1964. She attended Portland State University and the University of Portland. While studying, 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). At one time, she shared a secretary with author Ursula K. Le Guin. She earned an MBA in 1976 and has received honorary degrees from the University of Maine and Mount Vernon College for Women.
In 1977, Auel began extensive library research of the Ice Age for her first book. 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. Auel describes Riggs 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." Clan of the Cave Bear was nominated for numerous literary awards, including an American Booksellers Association nomination for best first novel.
After the success of the first book, Auel 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 Europe from France to Ukraine, including most of what Marija Gimbutas called Old Europe. She has developed a close friendship with Dr. Jean Clottes of France who was responsible for, among many other things, the exploration of the Cosquer Cave discovered in 1985 and the Chauvet Cave discovered in 1994.
Jean Auel's books have been commended for their anthropological authenticity and their ethnobotanical accuracy. However, recent archaeological research may suggest that some prehistorical details in the series are inaccurate and others fictional, and that specifications of prehistorical milestones are sometimes arbitrary and inconsistent. For example, the differences between Neanderthals and Homo sapiens may have been exaggerated or underestimated in the series; it has been found that Neanderthals had a hyoid bone and may thus have been capable of using vocal language and not as dependent on sign language as portrayed in the series (the existence of a Neanderthal hyoid bone wasn't confirmed until 1983, some years after the first book in the series was published).
eBook Le grand voyage / Les Refuges de pierre (Les Enfants de la Terre, # 4-5)