The author of 'Eat, Pray, Love,' Elizabeth Gilbert has thought long and hard about some large topics. Her latest fascination: genius, and how we ruin it.

Why you should listen

Elizabeth Gilbert faced down a ­premidlife crisis by doing what we all secretly dream of – running off for a year. Her travels through Italy, India and Indonesia resulted in the megabestselling and deeply beloved memoir Eat, Pray, Love, about her process of finding herself by leaving home.

She's a longtime magazine writer – covering music and politics for Spin and GQ – as well as a novelist and short-story writer. Her books include the story collection Pilgrims, the novel Stern Men (about lobster fishermen in Maine) and a biography of the woodsman Eustace Conway, called The Last American Man. Her work has been the basis for one movie so far (Coyote Ugly, based on her own memoir, in this magazine article, of working at the famously raunchy bar), and Eat, Pray, Love is on the same track, with the part of Gilbert played by Julia Roberts. Not bad for a year off.

Gilbert also owns and runs the import shop Two Buttons in Frenchtown, New Jersey.

What others say

"Gilbert is irreverent, hilarious, zestful, courageous, intelligent, and in masterful command of her sparkling prose." — Booklist

Elizabeth Gilbert’s TED talks

Elizabeth Gilbert on the TED Blog
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Live from TED2014

In case you missed it: Day 3 at TED2014

March 20, 2014

Day 3 at TED2014 was dense with science, design, conversation. Here’s a quick recap of some highlights: Hugh Herr and Adrianne Haslet-Davis’s surprise dance Hugh Herr is a bionics designer and multiple amputee. He gave a talk that was half mind-blowing — full of extraordinary advances in prosthetics, like bionic designs that produce the same forces […]

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Live from TED2014

Why?: The speakers in session 7 of TED2014

March 20, 2014

Humans, ever-meaning-making creatures, will never cease to wonder: Why are things the way they are? Why do I think the way I do? And what does it all mean? Welcome to Session 7 of TED2014, in which speakers will ask big questions about how we — and the world — work. Here are the speakers […]

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Live from TED2014

Going home after ‘Eat Pray Love’: Elizabeth Gilbert at TED2014

March 19, 2014

Elizabeth Gilbert has written a memoir so famous that strangers think she’s the author of the book … based on the movie. It sounds like a problem any writer would love to have, but to Gilbert, writing post-Eat Pray Love, seemed an impossible task. Says Gilbert in the final Wednesday session at TED2014, “How in […]

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Quotes from Elizabeth Gilbert

‘Ole!’ to you, just for having the sheer human love and stubbornness to keep showing up.
Elizabeth Gilbert
TED2009 • 8.2M views Feb 2009
Inspiring, Beautiful
I have had work or ideas come through me from a source that I honestly cannot identify. What is that thing? And how are we to relate to it in a way that will not make us lose our minds, but, in fact, might actually keep us sane?
Elizabeth Gilbert
TED2009 • 8.2M views Feb 2009
Inspiring, Beautiful
Maybe [artistry] doesn’t have to be quite so full of anguish if you never happened to believe, in the first place, that the most extraordinary aspects of your being came from you. But maybe if you just believed that they were on loan to you from some unimaginable source for some exquisite portion of your life to be passed along when you’re finished … it starts to change everything.
Elizabeth Gilbert
TED2009 • 8.2M views Feb 2009
Inspiring, Beautiful