The Englishman


  1. Matthew says:

    The difference between the Englishman and Santiago, at least as I see it, is that the Englishman wants to be an alchemist; Santiago wants to apply principles of alchemy to his own life; that is to say he seeks development and personal improvement. Due to his uncertainty in himself the Englishman never undertakes the work of alchemy, he is afraid to fail at his personal legend, preferring to learn about it rather than attempt it. The Englishman finally does try, and is happy that he only waited ten years to do so instead of twenty. This illustrates a sublime difference between the Englishman and the Crystal Merchant. The Crystal Merchant never goes on his pilgrimage. I see a big smile on the face of the Englishman as he finally takes up his task. The key similarity between the Englishman and Santiago is that they are both following their personal legend. In the words of the Dalai Lama, “People take different roads seeking fulfillment and happiness. Just because they’re not on your road doesn’t mean they’ve gotten lost.”

  2. GF Muresu says:

    The Difference between the characters in the difference between via ‘sicca brevis’ and via ‘lunga umida’ which in alchemy are two paths to the same end. Some may read that the alchemist had chosen the boy in preference to the Englishman, but I didnt see it like that.The Englishman didn’t need the alchemist at all, his way of viewing the world wasnt incorrect, just different but had become stuck through a loss of spontanaitey overcomplication self absorption and a fear of failure. It was in his case a sense of “when the student is ready the master will appear”.On his path there was nothing more he could have learnt from the alchemist. He had to BECOME the alchemist.And in order to start on that path all he had to do was a act of creation.

  3. Alexx says:

    It was an incredible read. Frustrating at times! But out of all the characters I enjoyed the Englishman the most. He wants to set out on his personal journey but like most of us he would like it simply handed over!

  4. englishmankk1 says:

    I had a lot of interest in this last section of the book, however i found it to be very rushed which disappointed me slightly. Santiago finished his work with the crystal merchant in a matter of days then joined a caravan to travel through the desert and into Egypt. However, I did find one aspect to be very important. The Englishman is leaving a deep mark on Santiago. The Englishman and Santiago seem to have a deep connection. I felt as though they had been friends for a long time despite just meeting. I also feel that the Englishman will play a very important role in the story similar to that of the King’s. Mainly due to the fact that he is introducing Santiago to Alchemy. However, I am incredibly interested as to how alchemy will impact this story, I have yet to understand what role it will play based on what i have read so far.

  5. EnglishmanMK2 says:

    Man does the Englishman seem selfish and snotty sometimes!! But he also seems very strong and smart, like it says that he reads a lot of books! Like myself I read many books. And he’s going after his personally legend too, so that’s very good! He’s going after what has been laid out in front of him. He also seems very determined, “…the Englishman had built himself a furnace, fueled by firewood, with a transparent flask heating on top… ‘This is the first phase of the job,’ he said. ‘I have to separate sulfur. To do that successfully, I must have no fear of failure…’ pg.98″ But his name seems very dull and boring, pretty vague. I really do wish that he had a better name! The Englishman just seems like a description almost. Just the name of the Crystal merchant…I mean come on why so boring names? The Englishman and Crystal Merchant are important characters in the book, I think the names should have been better.

  6. EnglishmanSC1 says:

    I knew he was going to go on his personal legend eventually and I wasn’t surprised when he joined the caravan with the Englishmen. At one point I thought he was going to go back to being a shepherd and later go on his personal legend. I think The Englishman was an omen.

  7. Marta Adriana says:

    Quite conceited and lost in the theory.
    He cannot understand life through simplicity.
    However , he is an interesting person who finally decides to change theory for practice, understanding that no knowledge is useful if it is not applied.
    It’s difficult for him to learn by intuition, so he learns through reason.
    He manifests love through enthusiasm and swaps certain degree of comfort for the ocean of uncertainty.

    1. Asif says:

      hi sweety i love u baby will do u\??????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

  8. Heart says:

    There isn’t any clear villain in The Alch, but the Englishman is a perfect protagonist. Where Santiago goes ahead and believes his dream, listens to the signs, and gets to meet a real Alchemist, the Englishman is a skeptic. I imagine he grew up learning about King Arthur and the Sword in the stone, and wizard Merlin. Wizard Merlin turned lead into gold, didn’t he? Here is the story;
    The Wizard Merlin was an alchemist who helped King Arthur to get the sword out of the stone. Probably the Englishman read this story sometimes when he was an adolescence, but say to himself, this is just a legend. Some people claim they can turn base metal into gold, but it is like turning water into wine. It is not possible. If it were, you would think there would be a lot more wine and gold around. The Alchemy is all about making money on offering chemicals that can cause this process, or receipts with the right amount of lead and how to cook it, so on. The Englishman knows in himself, there is no short cut to get gold. Gold has to be mined from rocks, or panned out from river sand. These Alchemists are waked, but just in case there is some truth to it, the Englishman takes off on his journey to Egypt to see for himself. As the great protagonist, he is a man without faith. I was wondering if fascination for Aleister Crowley had anything to do with choosing an Englishman, and not a Portuguese or German or any other nationality?

  9. Dances With Crayons says:

    The Englishman served as a reminder to me, that knowledge for it’s own sake has it’s place, (like when needing information, like a map on the internet) but my own journey has to do with hands-on, whole-heart-in, living and sharing of the adventure. Not that the Englishman’s way of life was ‘wrong’. Thank You Paulo, Love to All : )

  10. Nancy says:

    I found the Englishman interesting at the time I read The Alchemist. He was in search of unknown knowledge, the mystical, adventure. I thought the story between Santiago and the Englishman would make the longest part of the story and was surprised when it suddenly ended. Now I know the Englishman could depict a person only wanting to know about Alchemy for academic reasons, and a sense of superiority.

  11. Elaine says:


    You are spot on in what you say. The Englishman is all around us in many people — even ourselves. Paulo is a master by SHOWING us and NOT BEING DIDACTIC and preaching to us. Parable, one of the best ways to teach a pupil :-) and write a classic!

  12. Biombo says:

    It is interesting that The Englishman has no name and yet how important he is in the development of the story. My thoughts are maybe that Paulo intended him to be a little vague and mysterious for reasons that he was maybe just an instrument of the quest and not necessarily a figure that could change the quest. Having been such a mysterious figure, I’d like so ask everyone what books you think he carried with him on the caravan? Here’s my picks:
    -1,001 nights (Arabian Nights)
    -Tons of maps and history books
    -The Divine Comedy
    -and maybe his own book in the works

    1. Paulo Coelho says:

      Dear Biombo,

      great idea! I would add “Atalanta Fugiens”.

      Much love

    2. Savita Vega says:

      Atlanta Fugiens – very interesting. For anyone else who, like myself, is curious, here is a link:

      Yes, I’ve seen images from this work in a small but beautifully illustrated book, called “Alchemy & Mysticism” by Alexander Roob. One could get lost in these illustrations…or found!!!

    3. Marie-Christine says:

      This makes for an incredible reading. Thanks Savita, I had never heard of “Atlanta Fugiens”(another one amongst many others)until Paulo mentioned it.

      and there is so much information I have only read Emlems 1-5 so far.

    4. Heart says:

      First, I thought he was reading Alchemist books, but Biombo, you make me think! Perhaps he even brought Shakespeare, just to have a secure base during his adventurous search in the unknown.

    5. Melyssab79 says:

      I agree…perhaps the Englishman carried Shakespeare’s The Tempest in his trunk of texts…Prospero was fond of magic, too. :)


    6. Catherine says:

      I forget his age…

      so maybe Birds of the Middle East and Africa

      Lawrence of Arabia!


    7. Savita Vega says:

      I thought he was probably reading all of those big, thick books with names that I can hardly pronounce – such as Mutus Liber, Rosarium Philosophorum, Utriusque Cosmi…, etc. – especially the ones with all of the amazing and yet wholly baffling illustrations. I thought of the immensity of some of those books, their sheer size (no eight-and-a-half by eleven like today), the number of volumes they often comprised…and I thought, much like Santiago: “Oh, poor camel!”

      Also I think that if the Englishman had had the good fortune to be reading something like “The Alchemist” instead, he would have had it all figured out by now. The way to truth is simple. It is we humans that make the quest seem so complicated.

  13. Catherine says:

    I wonder, as with The Witch of Portebello {UK}, what was the reason for creating an English-man ?


    1. Paulo Coelho says:

      Dear Catherine,

      no – because I wrote The Alchemist 20 years eariler.
      Much love

    2. Catherine says:

      Sorry – my English let me down…
      I wonder what reasons there were for, now two, books to have had English characters…
      Have you lived in the UK at any time Paulo?

    3. Paulo Coelho says:

      I did, but he could be a French or German or an nationality. Which other book of mine has a Engishman? Many have Spanish characters (I also lived in Spain) but this is not what makes me choose the nationality.

    4. Catherine says:

      It was intriguing to see a book with the English town [Portebello] mentioned in the title.

      I had forgotten that there had been an Englishman in the Alchemist until re-reading this workshop blog.

      I wondered – as an English person [well, Scottish also], what had been your personal experience of England and how it made such an impression, as to figure in two books.

      I feel I communicated that one finally!!
      I think writing is a challenge of clear transmission of thought… like saying a prayer no… or channelling reiki energy!!

      Best wishes ;o)

  14. When I picture the Englishman, in my mind, I see him physically looking similar and resembling Petrus from The Pilgrimage. Anyone else think so??

  15. I wasnt quite sure about this guy. At first I didnt quite trust him. He seemed to be more set in his own views even though he wanted to know what Santiago thought of his books. I think he showed a characteristic of someone who is on his own path and isnt really open to big changes.

    with love

  16. Alexandra says:

    I wish to know why you used a generic name for that character. In my opinion, is one that reminds you, that is one side of your nature…Am I right?
    Was so lovely seeing that while he was there to meet an Alchemist, he himself become the Alchemist.

  17. Barcelona_20_euros_en_un_café says:

    And maybe The Gulliver travels?