1st book in Jean Auel’s Earth’s Children series

Women and Adversity: Jean Auel and determination

The sentence that attracted my attention describing Jean Auel’s rise to fame was that her path to success was not easy. Auel wrote the six-volumes of the Earth’s Children series. The novels follow Ayla, a Cro-Magnon girl living in pre-historic Europe. Auel sold more than 45 million copies of the first five books. I couldn’t find any numbers for the sixth book, “The Land of Painted Caves,” but most likely it sold millions more.

I tried reading the first book, “Clan of the Cave Bear,” when it was published in 1980. Ayla, the little five-year old, was alone and the earth was rumbling. I couldn’t get through more than a few pages. What could be more boring? A girl wants to find others like herself? So it’s the Ice Age? So what?

Auel’s original book was rejected several times. She was determined to tell her story to the public, did a massive amount of research and rewrote the book four times. It took just one publisher to believe in the book, one person to convince others to believe in the story.

This proves that writers have to pursue their dreams. If something as far-fetched as Auel’s series can sell millions, certainly a simple romance or mystery or police procedural or YA or women’s fiction or any genre a woman sets her sites on getting published can get on the shelves.

Read about Jean Auel at and




Article By: Jo Ann Mathews

I published an ebook, Women and Adversity, Honoring 23 Black Women, in February 2020 and Women and Adversity, Recognizing 23 Notable Mothers in May 2020. Now available is Women and Adversity, Saluting 23 Faithful Suffragists to commemorate the passage of the 19th Amendment giving the women the right to vote. Take a look at them at, and

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