The Brazilian author Paulo Coelho was born in 1947 in the city of Rio de Janeiro. Before dedicating his life completely to literature, he worked as theatre director and actor, lyricist and journalist.
Coelho wrote song lyrics for many famous performers in Brazilian music, such as Elis Regina and Rita Lee. Yet his most well known work has been done with Raul Seixas. Together they wrote such successes as Eu nasci h dez mil anos atr s (I was born ten thousand years ago), Gita and Al Capone, amongst other 60 songs.
His fascination with the spiritual quest dates back to his hippie days, when he travelled the world learning about secret societies, oriental religions, etc.
In 1982 Coelho published his first book, Hell Archives, which failed to make any kind of impact. In 1985 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 . In 1986, PAULO COELHO did the pilgrimage to Saint James of Compostella, an experience later to be documented in his book The Pilgrimage.
In the following year, COELHO published The Alchemist. Slow initial sales convinced his first publisher to drop the novel, but it went on to become one of the best selling Brazilian books of all time.
Other titles include Brida (1990), The Valkyries (1992), By the river Piedra I sat Down and Wept (1994), the collection of his best columns published in the Brazilian newspaper Folha de S o Paulo entitle Maktub (1994), the compilation of texts Phrases (1995), The Fifth Mountain (1996), Manual of a Warrior of Light (1997), Veronika decides to die (1998), The Devil and Miss Prym (2000), the compilation of traditional tales in Stories for parents, children and grandchildren (2001), Eleven Minutes (2003), The Zahir (2005), The Witch of Portobello (2006) and a compilation of texts gathered under the title Like a Flowing River (2006) published in a few countries for the moment.
He also adapted The Gift (Henry Drummond) and Love letters of a prophet (Kalil Gibran).
To date, Coelho has sold a total of 100 million copies and, according to the magazine Publishing Trends; he was the most sold author in the world in 2003 with his book Eleven Minutes even though at the time it hadn't been released in the United States, Japan or 10 other countries!
Also according to Publishing Trends, The Alchemist was to be found in the 6th place of world sales in 2003. Eleven Minutes topped all lists in the world, except for England, where it was in second place. The Zahir, published in 2005, was in third place of bestsellers according to Publishing Trends, after Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code and Angels & Demons.
The Alchemist was one of the most important literary phenomena of the 20th century. It reaches the first place in bestselling lists in 18 countries, and so far has sold 35 million copies. This book also brought the author in 2008 the Guiness World Record for most translated book in the world (67 languages).
The book has been praised by different personalities ranging from the Nobel Prize Kenzaburo Oe to the singer Madonna, who considers it one of her favourite books. It has equally inspired many projects such as a musical in Japan, theatre plays in France, Belgium, USA, Turkey, Italy, Switzerland. It is also the theme of two symphonies (Italy and USA) and had its text illustrated by the famous French artist Moebius (author of the sceneries for he Fifth Element and Alien).
His work has been translated in 67 languages and edited in more than 150 countries.