Elizabeth Gilbert

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

Elizabeth Gilbert
Gilbert at TED 2009
BornElizabeth M. Gilbert
(1969-07-18) July 18, 1969
Waterbury, Connecticut, U.S.
OccupationNovelist, memoirist
Alma materNew York University
GenreFiction, memoir
Notable worksEat, Pray, Love (2006)
Michael Cooper
(m. 1994; div. 2002)

José Nunes
(m. 2007; div. 2016)
PartnerRayya Elias
(2016–2018, deceased)

Early life

Gilbert was born in Waterbury, Connecticut. Her father, John Gilbert,[2] was a chemical engineer; her mother, Carole,[3] was a housewife. She is of Swedish descent.[4] 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.[5][6]

Gilbert earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science from New York University in 1991, after which she worked as a cook, a bartender, a waitress, and a magazine employee.[7] 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 She was the first unpublished short story writer to debut in Esquire since Norman Mailer.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,[7] 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.[8] "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.[9] 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"[10] and a "calculated business decision."[11] 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.[12] It was optioned for a film by Columbia Pictures, which released Eat Pray Love, starring Julia Roberts as Gilbert, on August 13, 2010.[13] 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.[14] She was named one of the 100 most influential people in the world by Time magazine,[15] and named to Oprah's SuperSoul 100 list of visionaries and influential leaders.[16]


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 Indonesia.[17] 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.[18] Gilbert published her second novel, The Signature of All Things, in 2013.

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.[19][20] The book is broken down into six sections: Courage, Enchantment, Permission, Persistence, Trust, and Divinity.[21] Advice in Big Magic focuses on overcoming self-doubt, avoiding perfectionism, and agenda setting, among other topics.[22] 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."[23] The Seattle Times described the book as, "funny, perceptive and full of down-to-earth advice."[24]

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's Meditations as her favorite book on philosophy.[25] She also declared Jack Gilbert as "the poet laureate of my life" when she succeeded him as a writer-in-residence at the University of Tennessee in 2006.[26]


In 2015, Gilbert and several other authors including Cheryl Strayed participated in fundraising efforts for Syrian refugees which raised over $1 million in 31 hours.[27] In 2016, Gilbert shared a video of herself singing a karaoke version of Bonnie Tyler's “Total Eclipse of the Heart” to raise money for BlinkNow Foundation, an organization inspired in part by Eat, Pray, Love[28].

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."[29]She realised that, "I might indeed win the man eventually. But over time (and it wouldn’t take long), his unquenchable infatuation for me would fade, as his attention returned to everyday matters. This always left me feeling abandoned and invisible; love that could be quenched was not nearly enough love for me".[30]

Gilbert was married to Michael Cooper, whom she met while working at the Coyote Ugly Saloon, from 1994 to 2002.[7][31] The marriage ended when Gilbert left Cooper for another man.[32]

In 2007, Gilbert married José Nunes, whom she met in Bali while on the travels she describes in Eat, Pray, Love. Gilbert and Nunes lived in Frenchtown, New Jersey; together they ran a large Asian import store called Two Buttons until they sold it in 2015.[33][34][35]

On July 1, 2016, Gilbert announced on her Facebook page that she and Nunes were separating, saying that the split was "very amicable" and that their reasons were "very personal".[36] On September 7, 2016, Gilbert published a Facebook post saying that she was in a relationship with her female best friend, writer Rayya Elias, and that this relationship was related to the breakup of her marriage. The relationship began because Gilbert realized her feelings for Elias following Elias's terminal cancer diagnosis.[37][38] On June 6, 2017, the two celebrated a commitment ceremony with close family and friends. The ceremony was not legally binding.[39] Elias died on January 4, 2018.[40]

On March 25, 2019, Gilbert posted on Instagram that she is in a relationship with United Kingdom-born photographer Simon MacArthur, who was also a close friend of Elias.[41]


Story collections


  • Stern Men (2000)
  • The Signature of All Things (2013) ISBN 978-0143125846
  • City of Girls (2019) ISBN 978-1594634734


  • The Last American Man (2002) ISBN 978-0142002834


As contributor

  • The KGB Bar Reader: Buckle Bunnies (1998)
  • Why I Write: Thoughts on the Craft of Fiction (contributor) (1999)
  • The Best American Magazine Writing 2001: The Ghost (2001)
  • The Best American Magazine Writing 2003: Lucky Jim (2003)


  1. "Paperback Nonfiction". The New York Times. February 28, 2010. Retrieved May 1, 2010.
  2. Driscoll, Molly (January 4, 2012). "6 moments that changed a life". Christian Science Monitor.
  3. Almond, Steve (September 18, 2013). "Eat, Pray, Love, Get Rich, Write a Novel No One Expects". The New York Times.
  4. Charney, Noah (October 2, 2013). "Elizabeth Gilbert: How I Write". The Daily Beast.
  5. "Elizabeth Gilbert, Zacharis Award". Archived from the original on January 3, 2008. Retrieved December 13, 2008.
  6. "Lucky me". The Guardian. January 10, 2009. Retrieved February 4, 2013.
  7. "The Muse of the Coyote Ugly Saloon". GQ. March 1997. Retrieved July 7, 2016.
  8. "The Last American Man". GQ. February 1998. Retrieved February 4, 2013.
  9. "Eat, Pray, Love (review)". Archived from the original on December 7, 2011. Retrieved October 24, 2011.
  10. Joshunda Sanders, Ana Mouyis, Bitch Magazine, May 14, 2010
  11. Levitt, Aimee. "The Elizabeth Gilbert problem".
  12. Paperback Nonfiction New York Times, October 3, 2008.
  13. Elizabeth Gilbert on IMDb
  14. Why We Can't Stop Talking About Eat, Pray, Love! The Oprah Winfrey Show.
  15. "The 2008 TIME 100: Artists & Entertainers:Elizabeth Gilbert". TIME. April 30, 2009. Retrieved February 4, 2013.
  16. "Meet the SuperSoul100: The World's Biggest Trailblazers in One Room". O Magazine. August 1, 2016. Retrieved July 5, 2018.
  17. Ariel Levi. "Hitched: In her new memoir, Elizabeth Gilbert gets married". The New Yorker. Retrieved October 24, 2011.
  18. Michael Hainey (May 24, 2012). "Elizabeth Gilbert Serves Up a New Classic". GQ. Retrieved February 4, 2013.
  19. Paskin, Willa Elizabeth Gilbert’s ‘Big Magic’ New York Times. January 4, 2016
  20. O'Grady, Megan Elizabeth Gilbert on Big Magic and Why She Loves Social Media Vogue. January 4, 2016
  21. 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
  22. Reese, Jennifer ‘Big Magic’: Elizabeth Gilbert’s advice on how you, too, can eat, pray, love Washington Post. January 4, 2016
  23. Fischer, Molly Charm Machine Slate. January 4, 2016
  24. Gwinn, Mary Ann Elizabeth Gilbert discusses ‘Big Magic’ on Well Read Seattle Times. January 4, 2016
  25. "Elizabeth Gilbert's literary influences", Infloox blog, 23 February 2010
  26. Fassler, Joe (November 6, 2012). "The 'Stubborn Gladness' of Elizabeth Gilbert's Favorite Poet". The Atlantic. Retrieved February 4, 2017.
  27. Schaub, Michael Cheryl Strayed and Elizabeth Gilbert help raise $1 million for Syrian refugees Los Angeles Times. January 4, 2016
  28. La Gorce, Tammy (June 3, 2016). "An 'Eat Pray Love' Story That Built a Children's Home in Nepal". The New York Times. Retrieved September 30, 2019.
  29. Gilbert, Elizabeth (June 24, 2015). "Confessions of a Seduction Addict". The New York Times. Retrieved September 8, 2016.
  30. Gilbert, Elizabeth (June 24, 2015). "Confessions of a Seduction Addict". The New York Times. Retrieved September 8, 2016.
  31. Kaylin, Lucy (January 2010). "What Comes After the Eating, the Praying and the Loving?". Oprah.com.
  32. Gilbert, Elizabeth (June 24, 2015). "Confessions of a Seduction Addict". The New York Times. Retrieved September 8, 2016.
  33. "Official Website for Best Selling Author Elizabeth Gilbert". ElizabethGilbert.com.
  34. Patchett, Ann (January 2, 2010). "Eat, Pray, Love, Then Commit". The Wall Street Journal.
  35. Donahue, Deirdre (January 5, 2010). "Elizabeth Gilbert talks about life after 'Eat, Pray, Love'". USA Today.
  36. Gilbert, Elizabeth. "Elizabeth Gilbert's verified Facebook page". Facebook. Retrieved July 1, 2016.
  37. Landsbaum, Claire (September 7, 2016). "Eat, Pray, Love Author Elizabeth Gilbert Announces She's Dating Another Woman". New York Magazine. Retrieved September 8, 2016.
  38. "Eat, Pray, Love Author Elizabeth Gilbert 'In Love with' Female Best Friend Two Months After Leaving Husband".
  39. Wong, Brittany (June 7, 2017). "Elizabeth Gilbert And Girlfriend Rayya Elias Hold Commitment Ceremony". Huffington Post. Retrieved July 11, 2017.
  40. Ward, Mary (January 5, 2018). "Partner of Eat, Pray, Love author Elizabeth Gilbert dies". The Sydney Morning Herald.
  41. Goldstein, Joelle. "Eat, Pray, Love Author Finds Love Again After Girlfriend's Death with Late Partner's Close Friend". People. Meredith Corporation. Retrieved March 26, 2019.
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