Auel, Jean M.: The Valley of Horses
(researched by Aimee Boone)

Assignment 1: Bibliographical Description

1 First edition publication information (publisher, place, date, etc.)

The Valley of Horses was published in 1982 by: Crown Publishers, Inc. 1 Park Avenue New York, NY 10016 It was published simultaneously in Canada by the General Publishing Company Limited.

2 First edition published in cloth, paper, or both? If both, simultaneous or staggered?

The first edition was published in cloth. It was later published in paperback by Bantam Books in 1983.

3 JPEG image of cover art from first edition, if available

4 Pagination

There are 255 leaves. i. Map of prehistoric Europe on front lining paper ii. Description of sketches of mother figurines found on the map iii. Title iv. Other books by Auel v. Title page vi. Copyright information vii. Dedications viii. Blank ix. Acknowledgements x. Title xi. Blank 1-502 xii. Blank xiii. Map of prehistoric Europe on back lining paper

5 Edited or Introduced? If so, by whom?

The Valley of Horses was neither edited nor introduced.

6 Illustrated? If so, by whom?

There are maps of Prehistoric Europe during the Ice Age printed on the inside of the front and back covers. They are attributed to Palacios,
after Auel. In addition, there are reproductions of several different kinds of small sculptures, called "mother figurines," reproduced on the map: (1)"Venus" of Lespugue, Musee de l'Homme, Paris, (2) "Venus" of Willendorf, Naturhistorisches Museum, Vie
nna, (3) "Venus" of Vestonice, Moravian Museum, Brno, (4) Female Figurine, Ethnographic Institute, Leningrad, (5) Lady of Brassempouy, Brassempouy (Landes), France. There are no illustrations contained within the text itself.

7 JPEG image of sample illustration, if available

8 General physical appearance of book (Is the physical presentation of the text attractive? Is the typography readable? Is the book well printed?)

The book is in good con
dition. The cover is intact. The book is bound in navy blue cloth with a taupe spine. The spine reads: The/ Valley/ of/ Horses/ Jean M./ Auel/ Earth's Children/ Crown (slashes denote separate lines of text). The words are printed in iridescent blue.
The typography is large and clear and very readable. It appears to be about a twelve point font. Each chapter begins with a double black line over the first line of text. The first letter of each chapter is done in a raised capital.

9 JPEG image of sample chapter page, if available

10 Paper (Assess the original quality of the paper used for the book. Is the paper in the copy or copies you examined holding up physically over time?)

The paper is
a fairly heavy weight. It is a light, cream color and has a somewhat rough texture to it. The pages are all cut evenly on the edge.

11 Description of binding(s)

The pages are glued in.

12 Transcription of title page

The Valley of Horses/ A Novel/ Jean M. Auel/ Earth's Children/ Crown Publishers, Inc.
New York Note: Slashes denote separate lines of text. All the text is done in small capitals and there is a double black line, similar to the one that appears at the top of each chapter, underscoring the author's name.

13 JPEG image of title page, if available

14 Manuscript Holdings

Auel has the manuscript in her home in Sherwood, Oregon.

15 Other (typograpical information from title page, etc.)

The painting on the jacket was done by Hiroko. The jacket typography was done by Paul Bacon. This book is the second in the Earth Children series, the first book being The Clan of the Cave
Bear, published in 1977.

Assignment 2: Publication and Performance History

1 Did the original publisher issue the book in more than one edition? If so, briefly describe distinguishing features of each (illustrations, cover art, typography, etc.); if not, enter N/A

N/A Source: WorldCat

2 JPEG image of cover art from one subsequent edition, if available

3 JPEG image of sample illustration from one subsequent edition, if available

4 How many printings or impressions of the first edition?

The first printing of the book yielded 100,000 copies. During the second printing, 30,000 copies were printed. During the third printing, 15,000 copies of the book were printed. The fifth printing of the book brought the number of copies of the first edition up to 250,000. There were 22 printings of the hardcover edition. Source: Publisher's Weekly: July 30, Sept 3, Sept 10, Nov 5, 1982 and The Washington Post, April 21, 1986.

5 Editions from other publishers? If so, list their dates and publishers; if not, enter N/A

There were several editions released by other publishers: Large type editions: MacMillian Library Reference, May 1991 (reprint) MacMillian Library Reference, May 1991 Paperbacks: Bantam Books, 1984 Bantam Books, 1989 Source: Books in Print with Books Review database

6 Last date in print?

The Valley of Horses is still in print as of 1999. Source: Books in Print with Books Review database

7 Total copies sold? (source and date of information?)

There were 875,000 copies of the hardcover edition sold and there are 4.78 million copies of the paperback edition in print as of 1990. Source: The San Francisco Chronicle, October 10, 1990 and Publisher's Weekly, September 31, 1989.

8 Sales figures by year? (source and date of information?)


9 Advertising copy (transcribe significant excerpts, briefly identify where ads were placed)

An ad appeared in Publisher's Weekly, May 21, 1982, for the Crown Publishing Group's fall releases. It was a two page spread, with each page divided into three columns. The ad for Valley of Horses was on the left-hand page in the left column. It had a headshot of Ms. Auel at the top and, underneath that, read: "Jean Auel's second novel in the monumental series that began with the best selling Clan of the Cave Bear. The ad followed with a quote from a review of Clan of the Cave Bear and a short plot synopsis of Valley of Horses. The title was underneath this copy, written in the same typeface as is used on the cover of the first edition. Underneath this, it says: "A novel by the author of Clan of the Cave Bear/ by Jean M. Auel (note: slashes denote separate lines of text). Another ad appeared in the June 25, 1982 edition of Publisher's Weekly. This was a full page ad for the book and featured the same cover art as is found on the first edition. The top of the ad read: "Jean Auel's second novel in the celebrated series that began with the bestselling Clan of the Cave Bear." This was followed by the same plot synopsis used above, and, underneath that, the title was printed, again using the same font as the first edition does.

10 JPEG image of sample advertisement, if available

11 Other promotion

The Crown Publishing Group allocated $100,000 for the promotion of Valley of Horses. Ms. Auel went on a national book tour shortly after the September 1982 release of the book. Furthermore, she attended the American Book Association convention in Anaheim California, which took place May 28-June 1 of 1982, with Crown Publishing. She was present at the Crown booth to promote her book and sold advance copies of it at that time. In addition, on September 8, 1982, Francis Ivancie, the mayor of Portland, Oregon (Ms. Auel's home state), declared September 8th "Jean Auel Day." This proclamation was followed by a reception and several book signings in the Portland area. There are many Earth Children fan clubs, some of which host Earth Children conventions all over the United States and in France, where the books are set. At these conventions, participants recreate many of the activities described in the Earth's Children series, such as amulet making, basket weaving, cooking, fire making, flint knapping and making Donii's, which are small clay statuettes. There is also a website devoted to researching the different herbs mentioned in the book and used by the heroine for different purposes so that readers can replicate her efforts. Sources: Publisher's Weekly: May 14, July 30, Oct 1, 1982.

12 Performances in other media? If so, list media, date, title, production information; if not, enter N/A

There were three recordings of Valley of Horses made on audio tapes: Donada Peters, narrator, Valley of Horses, Books on Tape, Inc., 1982, Donada Peters, narrator, Valley of Horses, parts I and II, special library edition, Books on Tape, Inc., 1986. Sandra Burr, Valley of Horses, Bookcassette, 1986. The Valley of Horses, unabridged, Bookcassette Sales, 1991. Source:,

13 Translations? If translated, give standard bibliographic information for each translation. If none, enter N/A

There were multiple translations and reprints in other countries of this book: Swedish: Hastarnas dal oversattning Mikael Morking, Hagarnas: Bokforlaget Bra Brocher, 1983. Hebrew: 'Emek ha-susim me-'Anglet Tsilak El'azar, Tel Aviv: Mo'adonokar'e Ma'ariv, 1985. Spanish: El valle de les caballos Mexico, D.F.: Oceano, 1997. Mexico: Ediciones Maeva, S.A., 1986. Mexico, D.F.: Lassar Press Mexicana, 1985. Barcelona, Javier Vorgara, 1984. Great Britain: Valley of Horses large print: Chivers Press, 1992. London: Coronet, 1984. Source:

14 Serialization? If serialized, give standard bibliographic information for serial publication. If none, enter N/A


15 Sequels/Prequels? Give standard bibliographic information for each. If none, enter N/A

The Valley of Horses is part of a series called Earth's Children. It is the second book in the series. The first is The Clan of the Cave Bear, published by Crown Publishing Group, Inc, April 1980. The third book is The Mammoth Hunters, published by Crown Publishing Group, December 1985. The fourth book is The Plains of Passage, published by Crown Publishing Group, October 1990. Auel is currently in seclusion, completing the fifth book in the series. Fans who are impatient for the release of the fifth book post their own continuations of the series on various websites, using many of the same characters from these books and continuing their storyline. Source: letter from the author's personal assistant

Assignment 3: Biographical Sketch of the Author

1 Paste your biographical sketch here (maximum 500 words)

Jean M. Auel was born Jean Marie Untinen on February 18, 1936, in Chicago, Illinois. She was the second of five children and the daughter of a house painter. She married Ray Bernard Auel almost directly after graduating from high school; they had five children together and now have fifteen grandchildren as of 1999 ( In 1964, Auel joined Mensa and in 1976, Auel earned her masters degree at night school in Portland, Oregon, where she and her family were residing. Although she was working for an electronics firm in Portland at the time, Auel quit her job shortly after having completed her masters degree, having decided to find a different type of work. After a few months, Auel decided to write a short story about a girl, set in Prehistoric Europe ( However, the story turned out to be far more complex than she had initially thought it would: "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," ( Auel has traveled a great deal in order to flesh out her research for these books, having visited prehistoric sites in Austria, Czechoslovakia, the Ukraine, the former Soviet Union, Hungary, Germany and France ( Auel wrote an article about her experiences in some of the caves in southern France, most notably those at Lascaux, for the Travel section of the New York Times in November of 1982 (The New York Times, Nov 21, 1982). Furthermore, Auel has studied under the tutelage of many different instructors in order to learn more about the different aspects of prehistoric life. For instance, as she has worked on this series of books, she has learned to knapp flint, make snow caves, tan hides, gather and prepare wild foods as well as use herbs and plants for medicinal purposes. She has studied with the Malheur Field Station in central Oregon and with the Aborigine Life Skills program, taught by Jim Riggs. Riggs taught Auel the skills necessary for making sleeping mats from bulrushes, making pressure flake stone tools using deer brains to turn deer hide to much softer leather and spear throwing ( Auel published The Valley of Horses in 1982 through Crown Publishers. Despite persistent rumors that Auel has died or suffered a severe stroke, thus explaining the prolonged delay of the much-anticipated fifth book in the Earth Children series, Auel remains hale and hearty in her Oregon home, where she lives with her husband ( She is currently in isolation, working on completing the fifth book. She has retained all of her manuscripts in her home (letter from Auel's assistant), and possesses the movie rights to all of the books as well. Auel says that she will not launch a book tour after the release of the fifth book, but will immediately begin work on the sixth and final book in the series (

Assignment 4: Reception History

1 Paste contemporary reception history in here (maximum 500 words)

The Valley of Horses was, in general, well received when it was released. It spent 47 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list (The Washington Post, April 21, 1986) and was greeted with tremendous enthusiasm from readers who had become eager followers of Ayla and her adventures.
However, while most critics expressed appreciation and admiration of Auel's extensive research, many commented as well on the somewhat melodramatic qualities of the book, calling it a "primordial-ooze soap opera," (People Weekly, September 27, 1982). The New York Times Book Review from October 26, 1982, characterized Ayla and Jondalar, the two main characters, as almost forced and somewhat unbelievable: "...while the background seems authentic, the characters seem too good -- too modern -- to be true...The brave, inventive Stone Age woman, Ayla, occasionally sounds like the dopey heroine of a paperback romance...the author has placed too much weight on these characters' shoulders, their credibility is strained." Ms magazine, on the other hand, called Ayla "the world's first feminist," saying that "...the scenes of Ayla's developing love relationship with Jondalar...are tender and surprisingly contemporary. Their humanity towards each other leaves you wondering how much ?progress' evolution really brings," (Ms, July 1984). Some critics, though, felt that the number of sexual encounters described rather graphically in the novel took away from the charm of the story: "Unfortunately, all this lust makes this novel inappropriate for the 10-year-old girls who might possibly have enjoyed it otherwise," (People Weekly, September 27, 1982).
Somewhat sarcastic reviews notwithstanding, reception of The Valley of Horses was generally favorable. One critic said that "...this novel is great fun to read...Jean M. Auel has created ancestors which do us all credit," (New York Times, August 4, 1983).

2 Paste subsequent reception history in here (maximum 500 words)

The current criticism of The Valley of Horses is, in general, very favorable. There are numerous websites where fans can post their comments about the Earth Children series; by and large, these comments are glowing and extremely appreciative. For example, one review states that, "Here is an unforgettable odyssey into a world of awesome mysteries, into a distant past made vividly real, a novel that carries us back to the exotic, primeval world we experienced in The Clan of the Cave Bear," ( Not every review is wholly complimentary, though, with several reviewers, especially those who reviewed the book its historical accuracy, criticizing what they characterize as gratuitous sex: "Auel weaves a fascinating story of courage, ingenuity and perseverance...the ?romance' aspect introduced in Valley may turn some readers off; nevertheless, Auel has produced a fine sequel to her first novel," ( Other reviewers criticize Auel for having gone on too long with her series, saying that only Clan of the Cave Bear was truly original and enjoyable, and that subsequent books like The Valley of Horses are growing rather tired. "By and large, Auel has succeeded in popularizing a misperceived period. Nonetheless, even she may sense her cash cow may be overmilked," (Time, October 22, 1990). A review of The Plains of Passage in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune on March 20, 1994 states that both The Valley of Horses and The Mammoth Hunters were inferior in comparison to Clan of the Cave Bear and The Plains of Passage. Reviews of the audiobook adaptations of the Earth Children series have also been favorable. A review in Forbes says that "If you've got a relative who belongs to the Cave Bear cult, this package is going to win you great affection, because Auel fans are the kind of readers who will enjoy listening on tape to the narratives they lived through between hard covers," (Forbes, November 25, 1991). All in all, Auel's work has retained much of its popularity as time has passed; even if many critics are not fully appreciative of the Earth Children's series, it is clear that the books have a devoted and cultish following, keeping all of the books a perennially popular selection for lovers of historical fiction.

Assignment 5: Critical Analysis

1 Paste your critical analysis in here (maximum 2500 words)

Jean Auel entered the literary arena with a bang in 1980 with the release of her book, The Clan of the Cave Bear. She capitalized on her success with the second book in the series, The Valley of Horses, published in 1982.
The Valley of Horses continues Ayla's saga, describing her life in isolation after having been exiled from her Neanderthal adoptive family. The book simultaneously follows Ayla's future husband, Jondalar, on his trek across prehistoric Europe and the Middle East, and the events which led up to their fateful meeting.
Despite the book's commercial success, proving itself in twenty-two hardback printings and forty-seven weeks on the bestseller list, many critics cited the book's melodramatic, somewhat self-consciously archetypal characters. "The brave, inventive Stone Age woman, Ayla, occasionally sounds like the dopey heroine in a paperback romance...the author has placed too much weight on these characters' shoulders, their credibility is strained," (Isaacs, 13).
This sort of criticism of the book is echoed in many of the reviews; however, it clearly did not detract from the book's popularity. This might best be explained by examining the side of The Valley of Horses which prompted Ms magazine to crown Ayla "the world's first feminist," (Ms).
Ayla is consistently characterized as intelligent, resourceful and courageous. Furthermore, her isolation from both Neanderthals and Cro-Magnons during The Valley of Horses proves her ability to survive on her own, completely independent of a patriarchal figure. This aspect of the book strongly appealed to the newly mainstream feminist movement of the early 1980s, especially to the women and men trying to balance a career and a family.
Underneath all of the colorful, painstakingly researched passages detailing life in the Ice Age lays what many critics feel is a strong prehistoric feminist ethic. This, combined with the fanatical, rabid devotion of the cultish following the Earth's Children series has engendered, helps explain the enormous popularity of both The Valley of Horses and the series as a whole.
The Valley of Horses opens after Ayla's exile from the rigid, overtly sexist culture of the "flatheads," or Neanderthals, but there are numerous flashbacks to her life with them, particularly in contrast to her new life with Jondalar. In the Neanderthal society, women were entirely subservient to men: women were compelled to bow down before a man and be acknowledged before speaking, to acquiesce to any sexual advance any man made to her, and to remain exclusively confined to the "women's sphere" both socially and in terms of the work they did in the community. Neanderthal men treated women with fear, wariness and, in some cases, outright contempt: "Women of the Clan [Ayla's Neanderthal community] were supposed to avoid men during their menses, and men totally ignored them. Women suffered this partial ostracism -- the woman's curse -- because men feared the mysterious life force that enable a woman to bring forth life," (Auel 429-430). Ayla's ability to escape from this oppressive society with her independence and spirit intact is part of what endeared her to so many of Auel's readers; from the outset of the book, Ayla's resiliency helps readers to sympathize with her.
Not every critic, however, saw Auel's portrayal of the Neanderthals as ignorant, slow-witted and sexist as one of the selling points of the novel. Lindsay Van Gelder commented that "The equation is rigged so that we automatically identify with the Others [the Cro-Magnons]. The message that emerges is a kind of post-colonialist chauvinist liberalism: people ?like us' can be secure enough in our historical destiny to tolerate ?less evolved' cultures," ( Van Gelder's reading of The Valley of Horses was anomalous, though, as most critics, and presumable most readers, interpreted Ayla's break with the "flatheads" as a positive experience, indicative of her strength of character and self-sufficiency.
In fact, Auel's emphasis on the fact that the Neanderthals were both unwilling and incapable of changing their ways appeals to a broader audience than those who ascribe to feminist ideals. Instead, it reinforces Auel's "egalitarian feminism" (Journal of Popular Culture, Winter 1994), in which men and women alike are equally important. "Auel may be making a more general point that any society that uses past behavior as an invariable guide to present decisions will fail. Auel's novel implies that any society that rejects the innovations of its most creative citizens because of their gender, race or other characteristics, will ultimately perish," (Wilcox, 64).
Even from the outset, Auel plays on her readers' sensibilities, appealing to their various situations. The strictly feminist perspective would have been extremely popular at the time because of the increasing numbers of women entering the corporate infrastructure, facing the proverbial glass ceiling in many cases. Ayla is striking because of her remarkable ability to fend for herself and to cultivate her myriad of abilities in the relatively hostile environment of the Clan; despite the incongruity of her prehistoric surroundings, she embodied superwoman ideal which was emerging in the 1980s, both physically and in terms of her abilities. "It is possible to see in Ayla's athletic body the new feminine ideal of the 1980s with its emphasis on participation in sports and even bodybuilding," (Wood, 35).
Auel broadens the appeal of this book in the way she ends it, with Jondalar and Ayla happily committed to one another and encountering a new social group: "The novel ends with the meeting of a human group, a signal of Ayla's entry into a new social order. She manages to have it all -- independence and companionship -- the fantasy of the modern American woman," (Wood, 37). One might say, in fact, that Ayla presents the earliest solution to the problem of balancing work (in Ayla's case, hunting and maintaining a home) and a family or, in this case, a relationship. This type of ending is appealing to either a man or a woman having to deal with the relatively novel idea of a two-career family in the same way that a traditional fairy tale is appealing; both offer a neat, satisfying solution to a difficult and complex problem. Ayla and Jondalar's relationship can be construed to be an ideal one, as perfect in the context of the Ice Age as it would be in the 1980s.
Social implications aside, The Valley of Horses was and continues to be enormously successful in great part because of its plot. Auel uses both the elements of a romance (many contend that she strays too close to the bodice-ripping variety of romance to be taken seriously) and an adventure; the presence of both these storylines help broaden the audience base to whom The Valley of Horses appeals.
Ayla's role as the focus of the actions also provides an interesting twist on the traditional adventure story, as she "does not seek external validation by men but instead actively initiates the direction of the narrative without waiting for a man to take charge," (Wood, 34). In fact, Ayla actually saves Jondalar's life from a much-feared cave lion, which she actually adopted and raised from a cub, on two occasions: "?Ayla don't! O Mother, stop her!' the man cried when she jumped in front of him, in the path of the charging lion. The woman made a sharp, imperative motion, and in the guttural language of the Clan, shouted, "Stop!" The huge rofous-maned lion, with a wrenching twist, pulled his leap short and landed at the woman's feet. Then he rubbed his massive head against her leg," (Auel, 464). This angle provides novelty in the traditional structure of the adventure story, as well as playing off the feminist overtones of the book, drawing in an ever-broadening audience, particularly women.
The scientific and anthropologically accurate details which Auel uses to flesh out the story reveal the depth and breadth of her research into the society of prehistoric humans. In the course of the novel, Auel expounds on the various uses of herbs and plants one might find in prehistoric Europe, the various tools Ayla would have had at her disposal and the different methods of hunting prehistoric animals that different groups of people would have used. Although Auel, in many cases, is forced to make inferences and assumptions about the prehistoric world because of the uncertainty in the scientific community about what life would have really been like, most find that her writing still passes muster: "?We can tell you how the paintings were made, but not why,' says American archaeologist Roy Larick. ?Jean does as good a job at speculating as anyone else,'" ( These historical details make the novel all the more attractive, drawing history and archaeology buffs to the book along with those who read it strictly for the entertainment value.
The element of romance in the novel is also important in making the book attractive to a fairly diverse audience, despite the fact that it does not factor significantly into the book until close to the end, when Jondalar and Ayla finally meet. The way in which Auel handles the relationship between these two, particularly in her descriptions of their numerous sexual encounters, is considered by many critics to be by far the weakest part of the entire novel. Consider, for example, the Los Angeles Times Book Review, entitled "Primordial Passions of the Pleistocene Times: The Flesh is Willing, But the Diction is Weak." The reviewer characterizes the book as a "well researched children's story fleshed out with steamy primordial sex, women's lib, soap opera plots and ?Me, Tarzan, you, Jane,' dialogue," (Sales, 3).
The abundance of "steamy primordial sex" clearly did not preclude, however, the successful sales of the book. Ultimately, the romantic aspect of the story rounds out the stories of Ayla's intrepid and daring exploits to create the perfect literary fast food: sex and action all rolled together in one relatively interesting, certainly novel, package. The fact that the book contains such strong feminist ideas and rich scientific and anthropological details only serves to make the novel more palatable: junk food with a conscience, the ultimate way to appeal to a broad range of readers. As one critic noted, "Jondalar is the ultimate civilized Cro-Magnon, a well-muscled, artistic, spear-throwing Cary Grant. And it is Ayla, and Ayla alone, who invents oral sex, horseback riding, a new technique for making fire and a better way of dragging the kill back to the cave. But despite those qualifications, The Valley of Horses is great fun to read. Jean M. Auel has created ancestors who do us all credit," (Isaacs, 14). Auel's technique has obviously been incredibly successful, having sold 875,000 copies of the hardback version of the book and 4.78 million paperback versions by 1990 (The San Francisco Chronicle).

Isaacs, Susan. "The Valley of Horses." The New York Times Book Review, Sept 26, 1982. p.14.
Ms, Jul 1984.
Sales, Grover. "Primordial Passions of the Pleistocene Times: The Flesh is Willing, But the Diction is Weak." Los Angeles Times Book Review. Sept 12, 1982. p. 3.
The San Francisco Chronicle, Oct 25, 1990.
Wilcox, Clyde. "The Not-so-Failed Feminism of Jean Auel." Journal of Popular Culture, Winter 1994. pp. 63-70.
Wood, Diane. "Female Heroism in the Ice Age: Jean Auel's Earth Children." Extrapolation, Spring 1986. pp. 33-38.

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