Biography of Paulo Coelho
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Coelho during the World Economic Forum (2007)
|Born||Paulo Coelho de Souza|
(1947-08-24) 24 August 1947 (age 73)
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
|Notable works||The Alchemist|
Paulo Coelho de Souza (/ˈkwɛl.juː, kuˈɛl-, -joʊ/; Portuguese: [ˈpaw.lu kuˈeʎu]; born 24 August 1947) is a Brazilian lyricist and novelist, best known for his novel The Alchemist. In 2014, he uploaded his personal papers online to create a virtual Paulo Coelho Foundation.
Paulo Coelho was born in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and attended a Jesuit school. At 17, Coelho's parents committed him to a mental institution from which he escaped three times before being released at the age of 20. Coelho was born into a Catholic family, and his parents were strict about the religion and faith. 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 using 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 Coelho being associated with magic and occultism, due to the content of some songs. He is often accused that these songs were rip-offs of foreign songs not well known in Brazil at the time. In 1974, by his account, he was arrested for "subversive" activities and tortured 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.
Coelho married artist Christina Oiticica in 1980. Together they had previously spent half the year in Rio de Janeiro and the other half in a country house in the Pyrenees Mountains of France, but now the pair reside permanently in Geneva, Switzerland.
In 1986 Coelho walked the 500-plus mile Road of Santiago de Compostela in northwestern Spain. On the path, he 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.
The Pilgrim – Story of Paulo Coelho is the international title for the biographical film Não Pare na Pista, a co-production between Brazil’s Drama Films and the Spanish Babel Films, in which the younger and older Coelho are played by two different actors. One of the producers, Iôna de Macêdo, told Screen International: "The film tells the story of a man who has a dream. It's a little like Alice in Wonderland – he's someone who is too big for his house." The film, shot in Portuguese, had its premiere in Brazilian Theaters on 2014, and was internationally distributed in 2015.
In 1982, Coelho published his first book, Hell Archives, which failed to make a substantial 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, published in 1987.
While trying to overcome his procrastination about launching his writing career, Coelho decided, "If I see a white feather today, that is a sign that God is giving me that I have to write a new book." Seeing one in the window of a shop, he began writing that day. The following year, Coelho wrote The Alchemist and published it through a small Brazilian publishing house that made an initial print run of 900 copies and decided not to reprint it. He subsequently found a bigger publishing house, and with the publication of his next book Brida, The Alchemist took off. HarperCollins decided to publish the book in 1994. Later it became an international bestseller. In a 2009 interview with the Syrian Forward Magazine, Coelho stated that the Sufi tradition had been an influence on him, particularly when writing The Alchemist and later The Zahir.
Since the publication of The Alchemist, Coelho has generally written at least one novel every two years. Four of them – The Pilgrimage, Hippie, The Valkyries and Aleph – are autobiographical, while the majority of the rest are broadly fictional. Other books, like Maktub, The Manual of the Warrior of Light and Like the Flowing River, are collections of essays, newspaper columns, or selected teachings. His work has been published in more than 170 countries and translated into eighty-three languages. Together, his books have sold three-hundred and twenty millions.
On 22 December 2016, Coelho was listed by UK-based company Richtopia at number 2 in the list of 200 most influential contemporary authors.
However, reactions to his writing have not been without controversy. Though he was raised in a Catholic family, and describes himself as of that faith even now, his stance has been described as incompatible with the Catholic faith, because of its New Age, pantheist and relativist contents. And whatever his sales, reviews of Coelho's later work consistently note its superficiality.
In 2016, he was contacted by basketball player Kobe Bryant, who wanted to discuss a children's book project with him. Some months before Bryant's death in a helicopter crash in January 2020, they started to write the book together, but upon hearing about his passing, Coelho decided to delete the whole draft, saying in an interview that "it didn't make any sense to publish without him." He did not say how many pages had been written or whether the book had a title.
In 2018, it was announced that Coelho had signed for a TV series based on the characters of his novels The Devil and Miss Prym, Brida and The Witch of Portobello.
|Year||Portuguese title||English title|
|1974||Teatro da Educação||Theater For Education|
|1982||Arquivos do Inferno||Hell Archives|
|1987||O Diário de um Mago||The Pilgrimage|
|1988||O Alquimista||The Alchemist|
|1991||O Dom Supremo||The Supreme Gift|
|1992||As Valkírias||The Valkyries|
|Na margem do rio Piedra eu sentei e chorei||By the River Piedra I Sat Down and Wept|
|1996||O Monte Cinco||The Fifth Mountain|
|1997||Cartas de amor de um profeta||Love Letters from a Prophet|
|Manual do guerreiro da luz||Manual of the Warrior of Light|
|1998||Veronika decide morrer||Veronika Decides to Die|
|Palavras essenciais||Essential Words|
|2000||O Demônio e a Srta. Prym||The Devil and Miss Prym|
|2001||Historias para pais, filhos e netos||Fathers, Sons and Grandsons|
|2003||Onze Minutos||Eleven Minutes|
|2004||O Gênio e as Rosas||The Genie and the Roses|
|2005||O Zahir||The Zahir|
|Caminhos Recolhidos||Revived Paths|
|2006||Ser Como o Rio que Flui||Like the Flowing River|
|A Bruxa de Portobello||The Witch of Portobello|
|2008||O vencedor está só||The Winner Stands Alone|
|2012||Manuscrito Encontrado em Accra||Manuscript Found in Accra|
|2016||A Espiã||The Spy|
|2020||The Archer||The Archer|
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