Renowned American writer Elizabeth Gilbert is most popular for her memoir Eat, Pray, Love, which chronicles her journey in finding herself following a divorce. Years after the publication of her most successful book yet, Elizabeth continues to inspire women with her words.
Gilbert was born to a small family in Waterbury, Connecticut. They lived in a place that was pretty isolated: no television, no radio, and no neighbors. To pass time, Elizabeth and her sister, Catherine, entertained themselves by writing stories. Two of her favorite writers growing up were L. Frank Baum and Charles Dickens. As the two of them grew up, they carried their love of writing with them. Catherine became a novelist, and Elizabeth wrote various things.
In 1991, Gilbert earned her degree in BA Political Science from New York University. After college, she started writing and submitting short stories, often telling stories about her experiences and the various jobs she had. Her first published work was Pilgrims, a short story that was printed in Esquire in 1993. The headline accompanying her story claimed it to be “The Debut of an American Writer.”
Following her first success, Gilbert pursued a career in journalism, writing for magazines such as SPIN, GQ, The New York Times Magazine, Allure, Real Simple, and Travel + Leisure, and made quite a living of being a freelance writer. In 1997, she published Pilgrims, a collection of short stories.
Gilbert gained international acclaim in 2006 with her memoir Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman’s Search for Everything across Italy, India and Indonesia. The memoir tells one year of her life when she went on a spiritual and personal exploration after she was divorced from her husband. The book made the New York Times Bestseller List for nonfiction and stayed there for over 100 weeks. She was named one of the Time’s 100 most influential people, and in 2010, the memoir was turned into a film, with Julia Roberts playing Gilbert.
Within that same year, Gilbert published a follow-up, which was also an unofficial sequel to Eat, Pray, Love. Committed: A Skeptic Makes Peace with Marriage is another memoir, this time telling her story of marrying a Brazilian man she met during her travel to Bali. Unfortunately, this second book wasn’t as well-received.
In 2015, Gilbert published a self-help book entitled Big Magic: Creative Living beyond Fear, a book which provides instructions on how to live a life as creative as hers. The book is divided into six sections, namely, Courage, Enchantment, Permission, Persistence, Trust, and Divinity. The book focuses on avoiding perfectionism, overcoming self-doubt, and more. Gilbert has also conducted two talks with the popular idea-sharing media organization TED, also on the topic of creativity and getting over the initial hype of success.
Gilbert and her now ex-husband Jose Nunes announced their separation in 2016. She also publicly came out as gay that same year and announced that she was in a relationship with Rayya Elias. Elias, who had been diagnosed with cancer, made Gilbert realize that she was in love with her best friend, saying in a Facebook post that “Death—or the prospect of death—has a way of clearing away everything that is not real.” Elias died in January 2018.
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