Paulo Coelho was born in Rio De Janiero, Brazil. He understood his calling as a writer; however his parents disagreed. He was growing up as a non-conformist and a maverick when his parents decided to have him confined to a mental institution. It was that age when non-conformists were provided with clinical healthcare and it was considered to be the best thing to do to cure them and put them back on track. He managed to escape the institution three times before he was finally released at the age of twenty. He recollected his parents view on non-conformity saying, “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.”
At the behest and insistence of Paulo Coelho’s parents, he decided to study law. For a while, he dropped the idea of being a writer. However, the writing bug bit him again; he abandoned his studies and traveled as a hippie across South America, North America, Central America and Europe for a year. He returned to Brazil and worked as a songwriter for Elis Regina Carvalho Costa, Rita Lee and Raul Santos Seixas. He went on to work as a journalist, theater director and actor before he turned to fulltime writing. He says he has a spiritual awakening down Road of Santiago de Compostela in Spain which he recollected in The Pilgrimage.
Paulo Coelho began his writing career with the Hell Archives and there was a lukewarm response. Then he wrote The Pilgrimage. Then other books followed such as: The Alchemist, Brida, By the River Piedra ISat Down and Wept, The FifthMountain, Veronika Decides to Die, The Devil and Miss Prym, Eleven Minutes, Like the Flowing River, TheValkyries and The Witch of Portobello. By the time he wrote Brida, The Alchemist became a best seller. Three of his books are autobiographical: The Pilgrimage, The Valkyries and Aleph. He has written collections of essays and other writings in Maktub and The Manual of the Warrior of Light. He has sold over 100 million copies of his writings in more than 150 countries and his writings have been translated in 71 languages. He also continues to be the best-selling Portuguese-language author.
Paulo Coelho is married to Christina Oiticica who is a Brazilian artist. They shuttle between Brazil and Europe. He began the Paulo Coelho Institute that aids the elderly and children who live on the financial brink of human society. In 2006, he was awarded the ‘Honorable Award of the President of the Republic’.