Paulo Coelho with A LUV KiCK
He had to choose between something he had become accustomed to and something he wanted to have.
- Paulo Coelho was born on August 24, 1947 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
- He has become one of the most widely read authors in the world today.
- The recipient of numerous prestigious international awards, amongst them the Crystal Award by the World Economic Forum and France’s Legion d’Honneur.
- He attended a Jesuit school.
As a teenager, Coelho wanted to become a writer. Upon telling his mother this, she responded with “My dear, your father is an engineer. He’s a logical, reasonable man with a very clear vision of the world. Do you actually know what it means to be a writer?”
After researching, Coelho concluded that a writer “always wears glasses and never combs his hair” and has a “duty and an obligation never to be understood by his own generation,” amongst other things.
At 16, Coelho’s introversion and opposition to following a traditional path led to his parents committing him to a mental institution from which he escaped three times before being released at the age of 20.
Coelho later remarked that “It wasn’t that they wanted to hurt me, but they didn’t know what to do… They did not do that to destroy me, they did that to save me.”
- At his parents’ wishes, Coelho enrolled in law school and abandoned his dream of becoming a writer. One year later, he dropped out and lived life as a hippie, traveling through South America, North Africa, Mexico, and Europe and started drugs in the 1960s.
- Upon his return to Brazil, Coelho worked as a songwriter, composing lyrics for Elis Regina, Rita Lee, and Brazilian icon Raul Seixas. Composing with Raul led to Paulo being associated with satanism and occultism, due to the content of some songs.
- In 1974, Coelho was arrested for “subversive” activities by the ruling military government, who had taken power ten years earlier and viewed his lyrics as left-wing and dangerous. Coelho also worked as an actor, journalist, and theatre director before pursuing his writing career.
- In 1986, Coelho walked the 500-plus mile Road of Santiago de Compostela in northwestern Spain, a turning point in his life.
On the path, Paulo Coelho had a spiritual awakening, which he described autobiographically in The Pilgrimage.
- In an interview, Coelho stated “[In 1986], I was very happy in the things I was doing. I was doing something that gave me food and water – to use the metaphor in “The Alchemist”, I was working, I had a person whom I loved, I had money, but I was not fulfilling my dream. My dream was, and still is, to be a writer.” Coelho would leave his lucrative career as a songwriter and pursue writing full-time.
- In 1982 Coelho published his first book, Hell Archives, which failed to make any significant impact. In 1986 he contributed to the Practical Manual of Vampirism, although he later tried to take it off the shelves since he considered it “of bad quality.”
After making the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela in 1986, Coelho wrote The Pilgrimage. The following year, Coelho wrote The Alchemist and published it through a small Brazilian publishing house who made an initial print run of 900 copies and decided not to reprint.
- He subsequently found a bigger publishing house, and with the publication of his next book Brida, The Alchemist became a Brazilian bestseller. The Alchemist has gone on to sell more than 65 million copies, becoming one of the best-selling books in history, and has been translated into more than 70 languages, the 71st being Maltese, winning the Guinness World Record for most translated book by a living author.
- In total, Paulo Coelho has published 30 books. Three of them – The Pilgrimage,The Valkyries and “Aleph” – are autobiographical, while the majority of the rest are fictional, although rooted in his life experiences.
- Paulo Coelho also writes up to three blog posts a week at his blog.
- Coelho and his wife Christina Oiticica divide their time between Europe and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. In 1996, Coelho founded the Paulo Coelho Institute, which provides aid to children and elderly people with financial problems. In September 2007, Coelho was named a Messenger of Peace to the UN.