Elizabeth Gilbert

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Elizabeth Gilbert
Elizabeth Gilbert at TED.jpg
Gilbert at TED 2009
Born (1969-07-18) July 18, 1969 (age 52)
Waterbury, Connecticut, U.S.
Occupation Novelist, memoirist
Nationality American
Alma mater New York University
Period 1997 – present
Genre Fiction, memoir
Notable works Eat, Pray, Love (2006)
Spouse Michael Cooper
Jose Nunes

Elizabeth M. Gilbert (born July 18, 1969) is an American author, essayist, short story writer, biographer, novelist, and memoirist. She is best known for her 2006 memoir, Eat, Pray, Love, which as of December 2010 has spent 199 weeks on the New York Times Best Seller list, and was also made into a film by the same name in 2010.[1]

Early life

Gilbert was born in Waterbury, Connecticut. Her father was a chemical engineer, her mother a nurse. Along with her only sister, novelist Catherine Gilbert Murdock, Gilbert grew up on a small family 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 sister entertained themselves by writing books and plays.[2][3]

Gilbert earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from New York University in 1991, after which she worked as a cook, a waitress, and a magazine employee. She wrote of her experience as a cook on a dude ranch in short stories, and also briefly in her book The Last American Man (Viking 2002).



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 She was the first unpublished short story writer to debut in Esquire since Norman Mailer.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,[4] was the basis for the feature film Coyote Ugly (2000). She adapted her 1998 GQ article, "The Last American Man: Eustace Conway is Not Like Any Man You've Ever Met..", into a biography of the modern naturalist, The Last American Man.[5] It received a nomination for the National Book Award in non-fiction. "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), a biography of Eustace Conway, a modern woodsman and naturalist, which was nominated for National Book Award.

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.[6] 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"[7] and a "calculated business decision."[8] The memoir was on the New York Times Best Seller List of non-fiction in the spring of 2006, and in October 2008, after 88 weeks, the book was still on the list at number 2.[9] Gilbert appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show in 2007, and has reappeared on the show to further discuss the book and her philosophy, and to discuss the film.[10] She was named amongst Time 100 most influential people in the world, by TIME magazine.[11] The book was optioned for a film by Columbia Pictures, which was released as Eat Pray Love on August 13, 2010, with Julia Roberts starring as Gilbert.[12]

Big Magic

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.[13][14] The book is broken down into six sections: Courage, Enchantment, Permission, Persistence, Trust, and Divinity.[15] Advice in Big Magic focuses on overcoming self-doubt, avoiding perfectionism, and agenda setting, among other topics.[16]

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."[17] The Seattle Times described the book as, "funny, perceptive and full of down-to-earth advice."[18]

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 a Brazilian man named Felipe whom she met in Indonesia.[19] 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, the food columnist Margaret Yardley Potter.[20] Gilbert published her second novel, The Signature of All Things, in 2013.

Literary influences

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' Meditations as her favorite book on philosophy.[21]

Personal life

In a 2015 article for The New York Times titled “Confessions of a Seduction Addict,” Gilbert wrote that she “careened from one intimate entanglement to the next—dozens of them—without so much as a day off between romances.” She acknowledged, “Seduction was never a casual sport for me; it was more like a heist, adrenalizing and urgent. I would plan the heist for months, scouting out the target, looking for unguarded entries. Then I would break into his deepest vault, steal all his emotional currency and spend it on myself.”[22]

Gilbert was married to Michael Cooper from 1994 to 2002.[23]

As of 2013, Gilbert lives in Frenchtown, New Jersey, with her husband, Jose Nunes. Gilbert met Nunes in Bali while on her travels in Eat, Pray, Love. The two were married in 2007 and run a large Asian import store called "Two Buttons".[24][25][26]

In 2015, Gilbert and several other authors (including Cheryl Strayed) participated in fundraising efforts for Syrian refugees. They raised over $1 million in 31 hours.[27]


Story collections


  • Stern Men (2000)
  • The Signature of All Things (2013)


  • The Last American Man (2002) (finalist for the National Book Award and National Book Critic's Circle Award)


As contributor

  • The KGB Bar Reader: Buckle Bunnies (1998)
  • Why I Write: Thoughts on the Craft of Fiction (contributor) (1999)
  • A Writer's Workbook: Daily Exercises for the Writing Life (foreword) (2000)
  • The Best American Magazine Writing 2001: The Ghost (2001)
  • The Best American Magazine Writing 2003: Lucky Jim (2003)
  • At Home on the Range: Margaret Yardley Potter (foreword) (2012) ISBN 1408832291.

Speaking engagements

  • 2015 All About Women Festival, Sydney Opera House, Australia[28]


  1. "Paperback Nonfiction". The New York Times. February 28, 2010. Retrieved May 1, 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. "Elizabeth Gilbert, Zacharis Award". Retrieved December 13, 2008.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>[dead link]
  3. "Lucky me". The Guardian. January 10, 2009. Retrieved February 4, 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. "The Muse of the Coyote Ugly Saloon". GQ. March 1997. Retrieved February 4, 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. "The Last American Man". GQ. February 1998. Retrieved February 4, 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. "Eat, Pray, Love (review)". Retrieved October 24, 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. http://bitchmagazine.org/article/eat-pray-spend
  8. http://www.chicagoreader.com/Bleader/archives/2013/10/18/the-elizabeth-gilbert-problem
  9. Paperback Nonfiction New York Times, October 3, 2008.
  10. Why We Can't Stop Talking About Eat, Pray, Love! The Oprah Winfrey Show.
  11. "The 2008 TIME 100: Artists & Entertainers:Elizabeth Gilbert". TIME. April 30, 2009. Retrieved February 4, 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. Elizabeth Gilbert at the Internet Movie Database
  13. Paskin, Willa Elizabeth Gilbert’s ‘Big Magic’ New York Times. January 4, 2016
  14. O'Grady, Megan Elizabeth Gilbert on Big Magic and Why She Loves Social Media Vogue. January 4, 2016
  15. Williams, Zoe Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert review – lessons in life from the Eat, Pray, Love author Guardian. January 4, 2016
  16. Reese, Jennifer ‘Big Magic’: Elizabeth Gilbert’s advice on how you, too, can eat, pray, love Washington Post. January 4, 2016
  17. Fischer, Molly Charm Machine Slate. January 4, 2016
  18. Gwinn, Mary Ann Elizabeth Gilbert discusses ‘Big Magic’ on Well Read Seattle Times. January 4, 2016
  19. Ariel Levi. "Hitched: In her new memoir, Elizabeth Gilbert gets married". The New Yorker. Retrieved October 24, 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  20. Michael Hainey (May 24, 2012). "Elizabeth Gilbert Serves Up a New Classic". GQ. Retrieved February 4, 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  21. "Elizabeth Gilbert's literary influences", Infloox blog, 23 February 2010
  22. http://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/28/magazine/confessions-of-a-seduction-addict.html?src=recg&_r=0
  23. Kaylin, Lucy (January 2010). "What Comes After the Eating, the Praying and the Loving?". Oprah.com.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  24. "Official Website for Best Selling Author Elizabeth Gilbert". ElizabethGilbert.com.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  25. Patchett, Ann (January 2, 2010). "Eat, Pray, Love, Then Commit". The Wall Street Journal.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  26. Donahue, Deirdre (January 5, 2010). "Elizabeth Gilbert talks about life after 'Eat, Pray, Love'". USA Today.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  27. Schaub, Michael Cheryl Strayed and Elizabeth Gilbert help raise $1 million for Syrian refugees Los Angeles Times. January 4, 2016
  28. Kane, Dominique. "All About Women at the Sydney Opera House".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links