Writing Made Them Rich #4: Paulo Coelho

Aug 29 21:00 2002 Michael Southon Print This Article

Paulo Coelho was born on August 24th 1947 in Rio ... ... age 17 he ... his ... to be a ... was a decision bitterly opposed by his ... because Brazil at that t

Paulo Coelho was born on August 24th 1947 in Rio de
Janeiro,Guest Posting Brazil.

At age 17 he announced his intention to be a writer.
It was a decision bitterly opposed by his parents,
partly because Brazil at that time was under a
military junta that persecuted writers and

Coelho's rebellious behaviour led his parents to have
him confined to a mental hospital in Rio de Janeiro
where he received shock treatment. He escaped - and
was returned - three times.

With the arrival of the 1960's Coelho threw himself
energetically into the counterculture of drugs and

In his 20's he fulfilled his ambition to be a writer
and worked as a playwright, a theatre director, a
journalist, and a song-writer for Brazilian pop music
stars such as Elis Regina and Raul Seixas.

In 1974, says Coelho "my life collapsed".

That year he was arrested three times, the first time
as an innocent bystander at a bank robbery, the second
time for speaking out against the establishment at a
pop concert. After being released by the police he was
arrested a third time by paramilitaries who tortured
him for a week.

In the late 1970's his life was back on track again
and he became artistic director for CBS in Brazil.

But in 1979 he was suddenly sacked without explanation
and he spent the next 2 years knocking on doors
trying to get back into the music industry.

In 1981 he decided to try his luck in Europe and there
met a member of an obscure Catholic Sect that studies
the language of symbols: RAM or Regnus Agnus Mundi. He
progressed within the sect and eventually became a

In 1986, on instructions from his mentor within RAM,
Coelho undertook the pilgrimage to Santiago di
Compostella in Spain.

The following year he published The Pilgrimage, an
account of his experiences on the 'Road of Santiago'.

In 1988 he wrote the book that would make him an
international celebrity, The Alchemist, a story about
following one's destiny and being open to the universe
of signs and symbols.

The Alchemist became an instant best-seller and has
since sold over 11 million copies worldwide.

Coelho's eight novels have sold over 37 million copies
in 56 languages and have been published in 140

In 1998 the French magazine 'Lire' listed Coelho as
the second best-selling author worldwide.

Paulo Coelho has won over 15 international awards for
his writing including the prized French award, the
Insignia of Arts and Letters (1996). Critics have
praised his writing for its "symbolic language that
does not speak to our brains, but to our hearts".

In 1998 Paulo Coelho was received by the Pope in the

He has been appointed to the United Nations as Special
Advisor for Spiritual Convergences and International

Coelho's view on happiness: "The most mediocre thing
in the world. I'd rather go by the idea of joy."

(c) 2002 by Michael Southon

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Michael Southon
Michael Southon

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