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Paulo Coelho's Biography

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

24 August is also the birthday of one of Coelho's greatest literary influences Jorge Luis Borges. Other influences, according to Coelho's interview with Glauco Ortolano in Confessions of a Pilgrim include Jorge Amado, Henry Miller, and William Blake.

There have been many twists and turns to Coelho's life. He went to a strict Jesuit School, the Colegio de San Ignacio (in Rio). The experience backfired because Paulo Coelho cites it as where he lost his religious faith.

In the sixties, Paulo Coelho moved from a love of Marx, Engels and Che Guevara to an exploration of the world of drugs and travelling in the footsteps of Carlos Castaneda.

Then Paulo Coelho took the more conventional path of registration in the Faculty of Law at the University of Rio de Janeiro, however he could not restrain his non-conformist ways and his family had him committed to a mental hospital. He was in and out of the hospital but eventually escaped. He pursued careers in journalism and then as a lyricist for the likes of Elis Regina, Rita Lee and Raul Seixas.

When he was 24 Paulo Coelho wrote his first hit and even in the 21st Century he could still remember his excitement at being able to buy a car.

However, life was not straightforward. Paulo Coelho was imprisoned three times for political reasons and was kidnapped and tortured by paramilitaries during the Brazilian military regime. During that period Paulo Coelho had what he describes as the most cowardly day of his life in an incident involving his wife at the time (his second wife).

As the seventies turned into the eighties so Coelho moved into a new era. He was sacked from his job at Polygram but he had sufficient savings to provide security. Coelho had his fourth marriage. It was to Cristina Oiticica, who encouraged him to travel and to write. When they met Coelho had been involved in satanic cults, but Coelho went to hear her sing in church and was won over.

During their travels, Paulo Coelho had some kind of revelation when he was at Dachau concentration camp which only took shape when he met a man months later whom he believed he saw and heard at Dachau. As a result Coelho got involved with the Catholic RAM order and went on a pilgrimage along the ancient road to Santiago de Compostela.

This led to his Diary of a Magus, which was later entitled The Pilgrimage.

Other books, most famously, The Alchemist followed.

The Alchemist was a phenomenon and has sold more than 30 million copies.

In 2010 Paolo Coelho published a compilation of extracts from his favourite 'classics' for a book called Inspirations.

His other books include The Witch of Portobello, Aleph, and Adultery.

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