Biography of Paulo Coelho

Paulo Coelho was born in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on August 24, 1947. Before becoming the most widely published Brazilian author of all time–publishing close to 100 million books–he worked as a theatre director, an actor and a journalist. In the 1970's, Coelho was also a successful songwriter whose songs were sung by such well-known brazilian singers as Elis Regina, Rita Lee and, most notably, Brazilian psychadelic rock pioneer Raul Seixas. Seixas and Coelho recieved wide commercial and critical acclaim for their songs "Eu Nasci Há Dez Mil Anos Atrás," "Gita," "Al Capone" as well as 60 other songs. Also during this time, Coelho travelled the world as part of the hippy movement and became more and more interested in Eastern religions as well as occultism in general.

Coelho's definitive spiritual turn, however, came when he made a pilgrimage along the Camino de Santiago de Compostela, a catholic pilgrimage route in the north-western Spanish state of Galicia. This journey is documented in his book, The Pilgrimage (O Diário de um Mago), released in 1988. His next book was The Alchemist (O Alquimista), a book which he claims is a metaphorical adaptation of his own spiritual journey that he undertook on his pilgrimage. Clearly, the name of the protagonist in The Alchemist is a nod to Coelho's experience on the Camino de Santiago. While sales of The Alchemist were slow at first, it went on to become the highest-selling Brazilian book of all time and one of the most widely read books in the world.

Since publishing The Alchemist, Coelho has gone on to publish other titles including Brida (1990), The Valkyries (As Valkírias, 1992), By the river Piedra I sat Down and Wept (Na margem do rio Piedra eu sentei e chorei, 1994), The Fifth Mountain (O Monte Cinco, 1996), Manual of a Warrior of Light (O Manual do Guerreiro da Luz, 1997), Veronika decides to die (Veronika decide morrer, 1998), The Devil and Miss Prym, (O demônio e a Srta. Prym, 2000), Eleven Minutes (Onze Minutos, 2003), The Zahir (O Zahir, 2005), The Witch of Portobello (A Bruxa de Portobello, 2006) and, most recently, The Winner Stands Alone (O Vencedor Está Só, 2008). In addition to his books, Coelho also has a weekly column which is published in several Brazilian newspapers and is syndicated internationally.

Coelho is not only an internationally acclaimed author, but is also an outspoken activist for peace and social justice. He is a Messenger of Peace for the UN, an Ambassador to the European Union for Intercultural Dialogue, a Member of the Board of the Shimon Peres Institute for Peace, a UNESCO Special Counselor for “Intercultural Dialogues and Spiritual Convergences," and a Board Member of the Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship. He is also a member of the Brazilian Academy of Letters, the highest honor for a Brazilian author, and is one of the best-known authors to actively support the free distribution of his work.

Paulo Coelho and his wife Christina split their time between Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and Saint Martin, Hautes-Pyrénées, France.


Study Guides on Works by Paulo Coelho