Elizabeth Gilbert Biography & Facts
Elizabeth Gilbert (born July 18, 1969) is an American journalist and author. She is best known for her 2006 memoir, Eat, Pray, Love, which has sold over 12 million copies and has been translated into over 30 languages. The book was also made into a film of the same name in 2010.
Gilbert was born in Waterbury, Connecticut in 1969. Her father, John Gilbert, was a chemical engineer at Uniroyal; her mother, Carole, was a nurse and established a Planned Parenthood clinic.When Gilbert was four, her parents bought a Christmas tree farm in Litchfield, Connecticut. The family lived in the country with no neighbors; they did not own a television or record player. Consequently, the family read a great deal, and Gilbert and her older sister Catherine Gilbert Murdock entertained themselves by writing books and plays. Gilbert has said that her parents were not hippies but modern pioneers, "My parents are the only people I've ever known who made their own goat's-milk yogurt and voted for Reagan twice. That's a Venn diagram that doesn't include anyone else."Gilbert attended New York University. She resisted taking literature classes and writing workshops and stated in an interview, "I never thought that the best place for me to find my voice would be in a room filled with twenty other people trying to find their voices. I was a big moralist about it, actually. I felt that if I was writing on my own, I didn't need a class, and if I wasn't writing on my own, I didn't deserve one." Instead of attending graduate school, Gilbert decided to create her own education through work and travel.
After college, Gilbert moved to Philadelphia and worked as a waitress or bartender to save up enough money to travel. Gilbert stated in a New York Times interview that she was influenced by Ernest Hemingway's early career, and his short story collection, In Our Time. Gilbert believed that writers find stories not in a seminar room but by investigating the world. She held various jobs including a trail cook, bartender, and waitress while storing up experiences for her writing.
Esquire published Gilbert's short story "Pilgrims" in 1993, under the headline "The Debut of an American Writer". She was the first unpublished short story writer to debut in Esquire since Norman Mailer. This led to steady work as a journalist for a variety of national magazines, including Spin, GQ, The New York Times Magazine, Allure, Real Simple, and Travel + Leisure. As stated in the memoir Eat, Pray, Love, Gilbert made a career as a highly paid freelance writer.
Her 1997 GQ article, "The Muse of the Coyote Ugly Saloon", a memoir of Gilbert's time as a bartender at the very first Coyote Ugly table dancing bar located in the East Village section of New York City, was the basis for the feature film Coyote Ugly (2000). She adapted her 1998 GQ article, "The Last American Man" into a biography of the modern woodsman and naturalist Eustace Conway in The Last American Man. "The Ghost", a profile of Hank Williams III published by GQ in 2000, was included in Best American Magazine Writing 2001.
Gilbert's first book, Pilgrims (Houghton Mifflin 1997), a collection of short stories, received the Pushcart Prize and was a finalist for the PEN/Hemingway Award. This was followed by her novel Stern Men (Houghton Mifflin 2000), selected by The New York Times as a "Notable Book". In 2002, she published The Last American Man (2002), which was nominated for National Book Award in non-fiction.
Eat, Pray, Love
In 2006, Gilbert published Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman's Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia (Viking, 2006), a chronicle of her year of "spiritual and personal exploration" spent traveling abroad. She financed her world travel for the book with a $200,000 publisher's advance after pitching the concept in a book proposal. The best-seller has been critiqued by some writers as "priv-lit" ("a literature of privilege") and a "calculated business decision". The memoir appeared on the New York Times Best Seller list of nonfiction in the spring of 2006, and was still #2 on the list 88 weeks later, in October 2008. It was optioned for a film by Columbia Pictures, which released Eat Pray Love, starring Julia Roberts as Gilbert, on August 13, 2010. Gilbert appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show in 2007, and has reappeared on the show to further discuss the book, her philosophy, and the film. She was named one of the 100 most influential people in the world by Time magazine, and named to Oprah's SuperSoul 100 list of visionaries and influential leaders.
Gilbert's fifth book, Committed: A Skeptic Makes Peace with Marriage, was released by Viking Press in January 2010. The book is somewhat of a sequel to Eat, Pray, Love in that it takes up Gilbert's life story where her bestseller left off. Committed also reveals Gilbert's decision to marry Jose Nunes (referred to in the book as Felipe), a Brazilian man she met in Manu, Indonesia. The book is an examination of the institution of marriage from several historical and modern perspectives—including those of people, particularly women, reluctant to marry. In the book, Gilbert also includes perspectives on same-sex marriage and compares this to interracial marriage prior to the 1970s.
In 2012, she republished At Home on the Range, a 1947 cookbook written by her great-grandmother, food columnist Margaret Yardley Potter. Gilbert published her second novel, The Signature of All Things, in 2013.
In 2015, Gilbert published Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear, a self-help book that provides instructions on how to live a life as creative as hers. The book is broken down into six sections: Courage, Enchantment, Permission, Persistence, Trust, and Divinity. Advice in Big Magic focuses on overcoming self-doubt, avoiding perfectionism, and agenda setting, among other topics. Gilbert continued the work started in Big Magic with her Magic Lessons podcast in which she interviews famous creatives including Brene Brown and Sarah Jones.
A review of Big Magic in Slate stated that most of the advice in the book is matter-of-fact, but that, "Gilbert comes bearing reports from a new world where untold splendors lie waiting for those bold and hard-working enough to claim them. What's unclear is how many could successfully follow on her trail." The Seattle Times described the book as, "funny, perceptive and full of down-to-earth advice."
In an interview, Gilbert mentioned The Wizard of Oz with nostalgia, adding, "I am a writer today because I learned to love reading as a child—and mostly on account of the Oz books ..." She has said she was particularly influenced by Charles Dickens, and has noted this in many interviews. She identifies Marcus Aurelius's Meditations as her favorite book on philosophy. She also declared Jack Gilbert as "the poet laureate of my life" when she succeeded him as a writer-in-residence at the Univ.... Discover the Elizabeth Gilbert popular books. Find the top 100 most popular Elizabeth Gilbert books.