• Birth—July 18, 1969
• Raised—Litchfield, Connecticut, USA
• Education—B.A., New York University
• Awards—Pushcart Prize
• Currently—Frenchtown, New Jersey
Elizabeth M. Gilbert is an American author, essayist, short story writer, biographer, novelist and memoirist. She is best known for her 2006 memoir, Eat, Pray, Love, which spent 200 weeks on the New York Times Best Seller list, and was also made into a film by the same name in 2010.
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, and they didn’t own a TV or even a record player. Consequently, they all read a great deal, and Gilbert and her sister entertained themselves by writing little books and plays.
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 (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 She was the first unpublished short story writer to debut in Esquire since Norman Mailer.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—and well paying—work as a journalist for a variety of national magazines, including SPIN, GQ, New York Times Magazine, Allure, Real Simple, and Travel + Leisure.
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: Eustace Conway is Not Like Any Man You've Ever Met," into a biography of the modern naturalist, The Last American Man, which 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 (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 (2000), selected as a New York Times "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), 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.
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. 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. She was named by Time as among the 100 most influential people in the world. The film version was released in 2010 with Julia Roberts starring as Gilbert.
Gilbert's fifth book, Committed: A Skeptic Makes Peace with Marriage, was released in 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 Felipe, the Brazilian man she met in Indonesia as recounted in the final section of EPL. 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. Gilbert and Felipe are still married and operate a story called Two Buttons.
In 2012, she republished At Home on the Range, a 1947 cookbook written by her great-grandmother, the food columnist Margaret Yardley Potter.
Gilbert returned to fiction in 2013 with The Signature of All Things, a sprawling 19th-century style novel following the life of a young female botonist. The book brings together that century's fascination with botany, botanical drawing, spiritual inquiry, exploration, and evolution. Kirkus Reviews called it "a brilliant exercise of intellect and imagination," and Booklist a "must read."
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 is especially vocal about the importance of Charles Dickens to her, mentioning his stylistic influence on her writing in many interviews. She lists Marcus Aurelius' Meditations as her favorite book on philosophy. (Adapted from Wikipedia. Retrieved 9/16/2013.)
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