Paulo Coelho was born on August 24th 1947 in Rio de Janeiro, 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 intellectuals.
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 arrival of 1960's Coelho threw himself energetically into counterculture of drugs and rock-and-roll.
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, first time as an innocent bystander at a bank robbery, second time for speaking out against establishment at a pop concert. After being released by police he was arrested a third time by paramilitaries who tortured him for a week.
In 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 next 2 years knocking on doors trying to get back into music industry.
In 1981 he decided to try his luck in Europe and there met a member of an obscure Catholic Sect that studies language of symbols: RAM or Regnus Agnus Mundi. He progressed within sect and eventually became a Magus.