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 housepainter, Neil Solomon Untinen, and her mother Martha Wirtanen. After High School, Jean M. married with Ray Bernard Auel (surname pronounced like "owl"), and raised five children of her own. The marriage live in Portland, Oregon.
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, finally she earned her M.B.A. for the Portland State University and has received honorary degrees from the University of Maine and Mount Vernon College for Women. At the age of 40, she was inspired to write a short story, just as she was about to change jobs. That short story quickly grew into a serie of the "Earth's Children". Her first novel, "The Clan of the Cave Bear", which was published in 1980, and her novels have sold over 45 million copies worldwide. She was awarded the French government's Ministry of Culture "Officer in the Order of Arts and Letters" medal. Auel lives in Portland, Oregon.