The author of 'Eat, Pray, Love,' Elizabeth Gilbert has thought long and hard about some big topics. Her fascinations: genius, creativity and how we get in our own way when it comes to both.

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 two movies so far (Coyote Ugly, based on her own tale of working at the famously raunchy bar in New York City), and Eat, Pray, Love, with the part of Gilbert played by Julia Roberts. Not bad for a year off.

In 2010, Elizabeth published Committed, a memoir exploring her ambivalent feelings about the institution of marriage. And her 2013 novel, The Signature of All Things, is "a sprawling tale of 19th century botanical exploration."

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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Quotes from Elizabeth Gilbert

‘Ole!’ to you, just for having the sheer human love and stubbornness to keep showing up.
Elizabeth Gilbert
TED2009 • 9M 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 • 9M 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 • 9M views Feb 2009
Inspiring, Beautiful