The most widely published Brazilian author of all time, Paulo Coelho has sold close to 100 million copies of his books and has also been a theater director, an actor, a songwriter, and a journalist.
When Paulo Coelho told his parents he wanted to be a writer, they thought he was crazy – literally. The Brazilian teenager’s parents had him committed to an insane asylum!
Paulo escaped three times before he was finally released and ready to follow a more normal path through life. He then enrolled in law school, as his parents desired.
But his creative instinct was too strong to be locked away, either behind bars or inside his own life. He had to break free. So Paulo dropped out of school, became a hippie, and traveled around Brazil looking for his inspiration. He found it through music and started writing amazing, strange, and wonderful songs. Soon, Paulo Coelho’s work was being
recorded by some of the biggest singing stars in Brazil.
Unfortunately, the oppressive military government at that time thought his songs were too subversive because they talked about freedom and defying authority. Paulo Coelho was arrested and tortured for his beliefs.
However, nothing would stop him from using his creative powers. Years after his release, Coelho went for a walk – a 500-mile walk along a road in northern Spain.
He used the time to reflect on his life, and he came to the realization that he still wanted to be a writer.
Even though he was now middle-aged, Paulo Coelho started on a new career as a novelist. His first two books went nowhere, but his third book, The Alchemist, made world history. The book has sold more than sixty million copies (one of the bestselling books ever written), and holds the world record for being translated into more languages – seventy-one – than any other book by a living author.
Since then, Coelho has written more than two dozen books, sharing his unique world view with readers everywhere. He has also been a pioneer of sharing his work for free – his publisher once caught him pirating his own books online. His greatest life lesson, he says, has been to never surrender your dreams or give up on making them come true. “The secret to life,” according to Coelho, “is to fall down seven times, but to get back up eight times.”
Paulo Coelho 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, and a member of many other organizations that advocate for peace.