Paulo Coelho

Paulo Coelho de Souza (/ˈkwɛl.juː, kuˈɛl-, -joʊ/;[1] Portuguese: [ˈpawlu kuˈeʎu]; born August 24, 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
Coelho during the World Economic Forum (2007)
Coelho during the World Economic Forum (2007)
BornPaulo Coelho de Souza
24 August 1947 (age 71)
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
  • Novelist
  • writer
  • lyricist
GenreDrama, Romance
Notable worksThe Alchemist
Years active1974–present
SpouseChristina Oiticica


Coelho was born in Rio de Janeiro, 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 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.[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]

On March 29, 2019, Coelho published on The Washington Post and in his personal blog a narrative from when he was arrested by the Military dictatorship in Brazil in April 29 of 1974 and then post under torture, in response to the Jair Bolsonaro plan to commemorate the 55 years of 1964 Brazilian coup d'état.[9][10]

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.[11]

In 1986 Coelho walked the 500-plus mile Road of Santiago de Compostela in northwestern Spain.[6][12] On the path, he had a spiritual awakening, which he described autobiographically in The Pilgrimage.[13] 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."[14] 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 Dama Filmes and the Spanish Babel Films, in which the younger and older Coelho is 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.[15]



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, published in 1987. 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.[16] 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.[16]

While trying to overcome his procrastination about 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.[13] 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.[6] 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 languages. Together, his books have sold in the hundreds of millions.[17] On 22 December 2016, Coelho was listed by UK-based company Richtopia at number 2 in the list of 200 most influential contemporary authors.[18]

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.[19] And whatever his sales, reviews of Coelho's later work consistently note its superficiality.[20][21][22]


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 Prym, Brida and The Witch of Portobello.[23][24]


  1. ^ J C Wells (2008) Longman Pronunciation Dictionary. Pearson Education Limited.
  2. ^ Schaertl, Markia The Boy from Ipanema: Interview with Paulo Coelho reposted on Paulo Coelho's Blog. 20 December 2007.
  3. ^ Doland, Angela Brazilian author Coelho thrives on contradictions and extremes Oakland Tribune published on The Washington Post. 12 May 2007.
  4. ^ Hollow Verse, Dot Com (12 April 2011). "Paulo Coelho Bio". Hollow Verse.
  5. ^ a b Day, Elizabeth A mystery even to himself The Daily Telegraph. 14 June 2005.
  6. ^ a b c An interview with Brazilian writer, Paulo Coelho: Everybody is a Magus Archived 9 February 2014 at the Wayback Machine Life Positive. July 2000.
  7. ^ Life and Letters: The Magus The New Yorker. 7 May 2007.
  8. ^ a b c d Biography Official Site of Paulo Coelho.
  9. ^ The Washington Post (29 March 2019). "I was tortured by Brazil's dictatorship. Is that what Bolsonaro wants to celebrate?". Retrieved 30 March 2019.
  10. ^ Coelho, Paulo (30 March 2019). "28/5/1974". Retrieved 30 March 2019.
  11. ^ Brasileira, Cultura. "Interview with Paulo Coelho". Archived from the original on June 12, 2016.
  12. ^ Teacher's Guide to The Alchemist Archived 27 March 2009 at the Wayback Machine Harper Collins Publisher.
  13. ^ a b Reiss, Valerie Paulo Coelho Dances with Angels Beliefnet.
  14. ^ Interview with Paulo Coelho BBC World Service Book Club. December 2004.
  15. ^ "Picture Tree Acquires Paulo Coelho Biopic 'The Pilgrim'". PMC. Retrieved 5 August 2014.
  16. ^ a b A Brief History of the Book Archived 2 August 2008 at the Wayback Machine Saint Jordi Asociados
  17. ^ Karen Heller, Meet the writers who still sell millions of books. Actually, hundreds of millions, The Washington Post
  18. ^ "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.
  19. ^ 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.
  20. ^ "Adam Mars-Jones finds Paulo Coelho hurtling towards stupidity as he reaches for wisdom in The Zahir", The Observer, 19 June 2005
  21. ^ Rebecca K. Morrison, "New novels fails to stimulate", The Independent, 14 September 2014
  22. ^ Cameron Woodhead, "Paulo Coelho's fictional take on Mata Hari misses the mark", The Sydney Morning Herald, 19 January 2017
  23. ^ Andreeva, Nellie (1 May 2018). "Drama Series Based On Books By 'The Alchemist' Author Paulo Coelho In Works At FremantleMedia North America".
  24. ^ "Paulo Coelho signs with FremantleMedia for first TV series".

External links

1947 in Brazil

Events in the year 1947 in Brazil.

Adultery (novel)

Adultery (Adultério in Portuguese) is a novel by Brazilian author Paulo Coelho. It is the sixteenth major book by Coelho, and touches on the theme of adultery. The Portuguese edition of Adultery was released on April 10, 2014. The (American) English edition is published by Knopf and along with it, the Spanish edition was published on August 19, 2014. The reviewer in The Independent found the book shallow and full of cliché, while "the sex is aggressive and gratuitous".

Aleph (novel)

Aleph is a 2011 novel by the Brazilian writer Paulo Coelho. An autobiographical account of Coelho, it is his fourteenth major book, and touches on the theme of spirituality. Aleph was written in Coelho's native language, Portuguese.

The book tells the story of his own epiphany while on a pilgrimage through Asia in 2006 on the Trans-Siberian Railway. The title of the novel is based on Jorge Luis Borges short-story The Aleph, from 1945. (Aleph is the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet, with many mystical meanings). Coelho spent four years gathering information for the book and wrote it in three weeks.Prefacing her New York Times interview with Coelho about the novel, Julie Bosman described the author as “a Twitter mystic”. Another reviewer, while admitting the difficulty of dealing with profound concepts in a popular work, noted that “throughout the story, Coelho's tendency to describe spiritual concepts in simple terms borders on cliché”.

Eleven Minutes

Eleven Minutes (Portuguese: Onze Minutos) is a 2003 novel by Brazilian novelist Paulo Coelho that recounts the experiences of a young Brazilian prostitute and her journey to self-realisation through sexual experience.

Hans Christian Andersen Literature Award

The Hans Christian Andersen Literature Award is a Danish literary award established in 2010. It is awarded every other year to a living author whose work resembles Hans Christian Andersen. It is one of the biggest literary prizes in the world with the winner receiving kr. 500,000 (£60,000, or approximately $90,000). The winner receives a bronze sculpture "The Ugly Duckling" by sculptor Stine Ring Hansen.

Paulo Coelho is listed for 2007 even though the award was not established until 2010. This is because in 2007 Coelho was presented with an honorary award by the city of Odense that was so well received the organizers of the ceremony decided to make it an annual affair and thus the idea for the Hans Christian Andersen Literature Award was born, the first official award given in 2010 but Coelho's honorary award is also listed by the award organizers.

Kochavva Paulo Ayyappa Coelho

Kochavva Paulo Ayyappa Coelho is a 2016 Indian Malayalam-language comedy drama film written and directed by Sidhartha Siva. It is produced by Kunchacko Boban, who also stars in the title role Kochavva along with Master Rudraksh Sudheesh as Ayyappa Das; the film marks the return of Udaya Pictures, the first ever film production company in Malayalam cinema, after 30 years. The film was released during the festival of Onam, on 9 September 2016 and received a positive response from the audience. The film was a Hit at the box office.

The film's title is inspired by Brazilian novelist Paulo Coelho, and a central theme used in this film is inspired from his novel, The Alchemist.

Margaret Jull Costa

Margaret Elisabeth Jull Costa OBE(born 2 May 1949) is a British translator of Portuguese- and Spanish-language fiction and poetry, including the works of Nobel Prize winner José Saramago, Eça de Queiroz, Fernando Pessoa, Bernardo Atxaga, Carmen Martín Gaite, Javier Marías, and José Régio.


Paulo is Portuguese masculine given name equivalent to English Paul. Notable people with the name include:

Paulo Jr.

Paulo Jr. (footballer)

Paulo Almeida, Brazilian footballer

Paulo André Cren Benini, (born 1983), Brazilian football defender

Paulo de Carvalho (born 1947), Portuguese singer-songwriter and actor

Paulo Coelho (born 1947), Brazilian lyricist and novelist

Paulo Fernando Craveiro, Brazilian author

Paulo Freire (1921-1997), Brazilian educator and philosopher

Paulo R. Holvorcem, Brazilian amateur astronomer, a prolific discoverer of asteroids

Paulo Jorge (disambiguation)

Paulo Kanoa (1802–1885), Governor of Kauaʻi

Paulo P. Kanoa (1832–1895), Governor of Kauaʻi

Paulo Miklos (born 1959), Brazilian multi-instrumentalist, musician and actor

Paulo Antonio de Oliveira (born 1982), Brazilian football striker

Paulo Orlando (born 1985), Brazilian-born Major League Baseball player

Paulo Ribenboim, (born 1928) is a Brazilian-born mathematician who specializes in number theory

Paulo Rogério da Silva (born 1970), also known as Gero Camilo, Brazilian actor, director, poet and musician

Paulo Santos, several people

Paulo Dybala (born 1993), Argentine professional footballer also called “La Joya”

The Alchemist (novel)

The Alchemist (Portuguese: O Alquimista) is a novel by Brazilian author Paulo Coelho that was first published in 1988. Originally written in Portuguese, it became a widely translated international bestseller. An allegorical novel, The Alchemist follows a young Andalusian shepherd in his journey to the pyramids of Egypt, after having a recurring dream of finding a treasure there.

The Fifth Mountain

The Fifth Mountain (Portuguese: O Monte Cinco) by Paulo Coelho was originally published in Brazil in 1996.

The Legend of the Prophet and the Assassin

The Legend of the Prophet and the Assassin is an adventure game by Arxel Tribe. It is the sequel to Pilgrim: Faith as a Weapon. It is sometimes considered to be two games in the "Legend" series; The Prophet's Trail or The Legend Part 1 as Part 1 and The Secrets of Alamût or The Legend Part 2 as Part 2. It was released at one game under DreamCatcher Interactive in the United States. In some contexts, "The Legend of the Prophet and the Assassin" is used to refer to just the first game. The game is inspired by the work of Brazilian novelist Paulo Coelho.

The Pilgrim (2014 film)

The Pilgrim (Portuguese: Não Pare na Pista) is a 2014 Brazilian-Spanish biographical drama film about the Brazilian lyricist and novelist Paulo Coelho. Directed by Daniel Augusto, it stars Júlio Andrade, Ravel Andrade, Fabíula Nascimento, Fabiana Guglielmetti and Lucci Ferreira.The film focuses on three different moments of the writer's career — his youth in the 60s (period in which is lived by the actor Ravel Andrade); adulthood in the 80s (Julio Andrade); and maturity, in 2013, when he visits once again Santiago de Compostela.Using as a basis Paulo Coelho's own statements, the history pervades the most striking moments of the life of the author, as the traumas, the relationship with drugs and religion, sexuality and the partnership with musician Raul Seixas.

The Pilgrimage

The Pilgrimage (Portuguese: O Diário de Um Mago, "Diary of a Mage") is a 1987 novel by Brazilian novelist Paulo Coelho. It is a recollection of Paulo's experiences as he made his way across northern Spain on a pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela. The novel serves as part adventure story, part guide to self-discovery.

The Valkyries

The Valkyries (Portuguese: As Valkírias; ISBN 978-0062513342) is a 1992 novel by Paulo Coelho.

The Winner Stands Alone

The Winner Stands Alone is a novel by Brazilian writer Paulo Coelho, first published in 2008. The book was first published in Portuguese under the title O Vencedor está Só. It is the thirteenth major book by Coelho.

The book is roughly based upon the growing rise of what the author calls The Superclass.

The Witch of Portobello

The Witch of Portobello (Portuguese: A Bruxa de Portobello) is a fiction work by Brazilian writer Paulo Coelho published in 2006, about a woman born in Transylvania to a Romani mother in a gypsy tribe without wedlock. The central character is abandoned by her birth mother because the father was a foreigner (gadje) and later adopted by a wealthy Lebanese couple.

The Zahir (novel)

The Zahir is a 2005 novel by the Brazilian writer Paulo Coelho. As in an earlier book, The Alchemist, The Zahir is about a pilgrimage. The book touches on themes of love, loss and obsession.

The Zahir was written in Coelho's native language, Portuguese, and it has been translated into 44 languages. The book was first published in Iran, in Persian translation, by Caravan publishing. Iran has never signed any international copyright agreements. By being published first in Iran, the book falls under the national copyright law of Iran. This copyright measure created an unusual situation where a book is first published in a language other than the author's native language. However, the book was banned in Iran a few months after its publication, during the 18th Tehran International Book Fair.Intended as a work of fiction, the story has strong autobiographical features, which led to an attack on the book's shallow egotism in the English press.

Veronika Decides to Die

Veronika Decides to Die (Portuguese: Veronika Decide Morrer) is a novel by Paulo Coelho. It tells the story of 24-year-old Slovenian Veronika, who appears to have everything in life going for her, but who decides to kill herself. This book is partly based on Coelho's experience in various mental institutions (see the biography Confessions of a Pilgrim by Juan Arias), and deals with the subject of madness. The gist of the message is that "collective madness is called sanity".

Works by Paulo Coelho
Patrons and members of the Brazilian Academy of Letters
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