Biography of Spiritual Leaders

Paulo Coelho

Paulo Coelho
Paulo Coelho

Born 24 August 1947 (age 71)
Rio de JaneiroBrazil
Occupation Novelist, writer and lyricist
Language Portuguese
Nationality Brazilian
Genre DramaRomance
Notable works O Alquimista
Years active 1974–present
Spouse Christina Oiticica

Paulo Coelho de Souza (/ˈkwɛl.jkuˈɛl-, j/;[1] Portuguese: [ˈpawlu kuˈeʎu]; born 24 August 1947) is a Brazilian lyricist and novelist. He is best known for his novel The Alchemist. A keen user of electronic media, in 2014 he uploaded his personal papers online to create a virtual Paulo Coelho Foundation.

Biographical details[edit]

Paulo Coelho was born in Brazil and attended a Jesuit school. As a teenager, Coelho wanted to become a writer. Upon telling his mother this, she responded, “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?” At 17, 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.[2][3] Born into a Catholic family, his parents were strict about the religion and faith.[4] 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.”[5] 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.[6][7]

Upon his return to Brazil, Coelho worked as a songwriter, composing lyrics for Elis ReginaRita 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.[8] 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.[5] Coelho also worked as an actor, journalist, and theatre director before pursuing his writing career.[8]

In 1980 Coelho married artist Christina Oiticica. 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.[9]

In 1986, Coelho walked the 500-plus mile Road of Santiago de Compostela in northwestern Spain, a turning point in his life.[6][10] On the path, Coelho had a spiritual awakening, which he described autobiographically in The Pilgrimage.[11] 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.”[12] Coelho would leave his lucrative career as a songwriter and pursue writing full-time.

In 1996, he founded the Paulo Coelho Institute, which provides support to children and the elderly.[13]

Coelho posts up to three times a week at his blog,[14] and has millions of fans on both Facebook and Twitter. He discussed his relationship with readers through social media platforms with The Wall Street Journal in August 2014.[15] Another development came in November 2014, when he finished uploading around 80,000 documents-manuscripts, diaries, photos, reader letters, press clippings-and created a virtual Paulo Coelho Foundation,[16] together with the physical foundation which is based in Geneva.[17]

Writing career[edit]

In 1982, Coelho published his first book, Hell Archives, which failed to make a substantial impact.[8] 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.”[8] After making the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela in 1986, Coelho wrote The Pilgrimage that was published in the year 1987. 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.[18] He subsequently found a bigger publishing house, and with the publication of his next book BridaThe Alchemist took off. HarperCollins decided to publish the book in 1994. Later it became an international bestseller.[18]

While trying to overcome his procrastination of launching his writing career, Coelho said, “If I see a white feather today, that is a sign that God is giving me that I have to write a new book.” Coelho found a white feather in the window of a shop, and began writing that day.[11] Since the publication of The Alchemist, Coelho has generally written at least one novel every two years. Three of them – The PilgrimageHippieThe Valkyries and Aleph – are autobiographical, while the majority of the rest are broadly fictional.[6] Other books, like MaktubThe 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 languages. Together, his books have sold in the hundreds of millions.[19] On 22 December 2016, Coelho was listed by UK-based company Richtopia at number 2 in the list of 200 most influential contemporary authors.[20]

Reaction to his writing has not been without controversy, however. 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 Agepantheist and relativist contents.[21] And whatever his sales, reviews of Coelho’s later work consistently note its superficiality.[22][23][24]

Não Pare na Pista[edit]

The Pilgrim – Story of Paulo Coelho is the international title for the film Não Pare na Pista, a movie about Coelho’s life. A co-production between Brazil’s Dama Filmes, led by Carolina Kotscho and Iôna de Macedo, Angélica Huete’s Babel Films in Spain and directed by Daniel Augusto. Ravel and Júlio Andrade play the young and old Coelho, and other cast members include international names such as Fabiana Gugli, Nancho Novo and Paz Vega. Those working on the film include Pedro Almodovar’s regular art director Antxón Gómez and Oscar-winning make-up artists Montse Ribé and David Marti.

De Macedo told Screen: “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, was internationally distributed by Picture Tree on 2015, according to Variety.[25]


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
1990 Brida Brida
1991 O Dom Supremo The Supreme Gift
1992 As Valkírias The Valkyries
1994 Maktub Maktub
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
Viagens Journeys
Vida Life
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
2009 Amor Love
2010 Aleph Aleph
2011 Fábulas
2012 Manuscrito Encontrado em Accra Manuscript Found in Accra
2014 Adultério Adultery
2016 A Espiã The Spy
2018 Hippie Hippie


On May 1, 2018 it was announced the Coelho signed for a TV series based on the characters of his novels The Devil and Miss PrymBrida and The Witch of Portobello.[26][27]


  1. Jump up^ J C Wells (2008) Longman Pronunciation Dictionary. Pearson Education Limited.
  2. Jump up^ Schaertl, Markia The Boy from Ipanema: Interview with Paulo Coelho reposted on Paulo Coelho’s Blog. 20 December 2007.
  3. Jump up^ Doland, Angela Brazilian author Coelho thrives on contradictions and extremes Oakland Tribune published on The Washington Post. 12 May 2007.
  4. Jump up^ Hollow Verse, Dot Com (2011-04-12). “Paulo Coelho Bio”Hollow Verse.
  5. Jump up to:a b Day, Elizabeth A mystery even to himself The Daily Telegraph. 14 June 2005.
  6. Jump up to:a b c An interview with Brazilian writer, Paulo Coelho: Everybody is a Magus Archived 9 February 2014 at the Wayback MachineLife Positive. July 2000.
  7. Jump up^ Life and Letters: The Magus The New Yorker. 7 May 2007.
  8. Jump up to:a b c d Biography Official Site of Paulo Coelho.
  9. Jump up^ Brasileira, Cultura. “Interview with Paulo Coelho”. Archived from the original on June 12, 2016.
  10. Jump up^ Teacher’s Guide to The Alchemist Archived 27 March 2009 at the Wayback MachineHarper Collins Publisher.
  11. Jump up to:a b Reiss, Valerie Paulo Coelho Dances with AngelsBeliefnet.
  12. Jump up^ Interview with Paulo Coelho BBC World Service Book Club.December 2004.
  13. Jump up^ “When Paulo Coelho was 17 his parents sent him to an asylum because they thought he was psychotic. Now he’s the world’s biggest-selling novelist – but, he says, some people still don’t understand him A mystery even to himself” Retrieved 2018-01-22.
  14. Jump up^ “Paulo Coelho’s Blog”. 2011-10-08. Retrieved 2011-11-11.
  15. Jump up^ Gamerman, Ellen (14 August 2014). “Paulo Coelho, Fiction’s Digital JOURNALISM”Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 2014-12-19.
  16. Jump up^ “Foundation Paulo Coelho & Christina Oiticica”.
  17. Jump up^ “Google Maps”.
  18. Jump up to:a b A Brief History of the Book Archived 2 August 2008 at the Wayback MachineSaint Jordi Asociados
  19. Jump up^ Karen Heller, Meet the writers who still sell millions of books. Actually, hundreds of millionsThe Washington Post
  20. Jump up^ “Authors Top 200: From J.K. Rowling to T. Harv Eker, These Are the Most Influential Authors in the World”Richtopia. Retrieved 21 January 2017.
  21. Jump up^ Santamaría, Luis (23 July 2014). “Paulo Coelho: ¿alguna objeción desde la fe cristiana?” [Paulo Coelho: any objection from the Christian faith?]. Aleteia (in Spanish). Retrieved 22 May 2017.
  22. Jump up^ “Adam Mars-Jones finds Paulo Coelho hurtling towards stupidity as he reaches for wisdom in The Zahir”The Observer, 19 June 2005
  23. Jump up^ Tebecca K. Morrison, “New novels fails to stimulate”The Independent, 14 September 2014
  24. Jump up^ Cameron Woodhead, “Paulo Coelho’s fictional take on Mata Hari misses the mark”The Sydney Morning Herald, 19 January 2017
  25. Jump up^ “Picture Tree Acquires Paulo Coelho Biopic ‘The Pilgrim. PMC. Retrieved 5 August 2014.
  26. Jump up^ Andreeva, Nellie (1 May 2018). “Drama Series Based On Books By ‘The Alchemist’ Author Paulo Coelho In Works At FremantleMedia North America”.
  27. Jump up^ “Paulo Coelho signs with FremantleMedia for first TV series”.