Alex Bellos

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Alex Bellos
Alex Bellos no Fronteiras Diálogos com Professores 2011 (5658924252).jpg
Alex Bellos in 2011
Alexander Bellos

1969 (age 52–53)[1]
EducationHampton Park Comprehensive School
Richard Taunton Sixth Form College
Alma materUniversity of Oxford (BA, MA)
AwardsBritish Book Awards[when?]

Alexander Bellos (born 1969)[1] is a British writer, broadcaster and mathematics communicator.[3][4][5][6] He is the author of books about Brazil and mathematics, as well as having a column in The Guardian newspaper.[2][7]

Education and early life[edit]

Alex Bellos was born in Oxford and grew up in Edinburgh and Southampton. He was educated at Hampton Park Comprehensive School and Richard Taunton Sixth Form College in Southampton.[1] He went on to study mathematics and philosophy at Corpus Christi College, Oxford,[1] where he was the editor of the student paper Cherwell.[citation needed]


Bellos's first job was working for The Argus[1] in Brighton before moving to The Guardian in London.[when?] From 1998 to 2003 he was South America correspondent of The Guardian,[8][2] and wrote Futebol: the Brazilian Way of Life.[9] The book was well received in the UK, where it was nominated for sports book of the year at the British Book Awards. In the US, it was included as one of Publishers Weekly's books of the year. They wrote: “Compelling...Alternately funny and dark...Bellos offers a cast of characters as colorful as a Carnival parade”. In 2006, he ghostwrote Pelé: The Autobiography, about the soccer player Pelé, which was a number one best-seller in the UK.[10][11]

Returning to live in the UK, Bellos decided to write about mathematics. The book Alex's Adventures in Numberland was published in 2010 and spent four months in The Sunday Times' top ten best-sellers' list. The Daily Telegraph described the book as a "mathematical wonder that will leave you hooked on numbers." The book was shortlisted for three awards in the UK, including the BBC Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction 2010.[12] The Guardian reported that Bellos's book was narrowly beaten into second place. Chairman of the judges Evan Davis broke with protocol to discuss their deliberations: "[Bellos's] was a book everyone thought would be nice if it won, because it would be good for people to read a maths book. Some of us wished we'd read it when we were 14 years old. If we'd taken the view that this is a book everyone ought to read, then it might have gone that way."[13]

Several translations of the book have been published. The Italian version, Il meraviglioso mondo dei numeri, won both the €10,000 Galileo Prize for science books[14][15][16] and the 2011 Peano Prize[17] for mathematics books. In the United States, the book was given the title Here's Looking at Euclid.[18]

Alex Through The Looking-Glass: How Life Reflects Numbers and Numbers Reflect Life was published in 2014 and received positive reviews. The Daily Telegraph wrote: “If anything, Looking Glass is a better work than Numberland – it feels more immediate, more relevant and more fun.” [19] Its US title was The Grapes of Math, about which The New York Times said Bellos was: “a charming and eloquent guide to math’s mysteries…There’s an interesting fact or mathematical obsessive on almost every page. And for its witty flourishes, it’s never shallow. Bellos doesn’t shrink from delving into equations, which should delight aficionados who relish those kinds of details.”

Bellos presented the BBC TV series Inside Out Brazil (2003),[20] and also authored the documentary Et Dieu créa…le foot, about football in the Amazon rainforest, which was shown on the National Geographic Channel.[21] His short films on the Amazon have appeared on BBC, More4 and Al Jazeera.[4][22] He also appears frequently on the BBC talking about mathematics. His Radio 4 documentary Nirvana by Numbers was shortlisted for best radio programme in the 2014 Association of British Science Writers Awards.


On football[edit]

  • Futebol: The Brazilian Way of Life (2002)[23][ISBN missing]
  • Pelé, The Autobiography (2006) (as ghostwriter)[ISBN missing]
  • Football School Season 1 with Ben Lyttleton and illustrated by Spike Gerrell (2016)[ISBN missing]
  • Football School Season 2 with Ben Lyttleton and illustrated by Spike Gerrell (2017)[ISBN missing]

On mathematics[edit]

  • (2010) Alex's Adventures in Numberland/Here's Looking at Euclid ISBN 1526623994[24]
  • (2014) Alex Through the Looking-Glass: How Life Reflects Numbers and Numbers Reflect Life ISBN 1408817772
  • (2015) Snowflake Seashell Star: Colouring Adventures in Numberland with Edmund Harris ISBN 1782117881
  • (2016) Can You Solve My Problems?: Ingenious, Perplexing, and Totally Satisfying Math and Logic Puzzles ISBN 1783351144
  • (2016) Visions of Numberland/Patterns of the Universe with Edmund Harriss ISBN 9781408888988
  • (2017) Puzzle Ninja: Pit Your Wits Against the Japanese Puzzle Masters ISBN 145217105X
  • (2019) So You Think You've Got Problems?: Puzzles to flex, stretch and sharpen your mind ISBN 178335190X
  • (2020) The Language Lover’s Puzzle Book: Lexical perplexities and cracking conundrums from across the globe ISBN 1783352183

Awards and honours[edit]

Personal life[edit]

Bellos lives in London[citation needed] and is married with children.[1] His father David Bellos[1] is a translator and academic[29] and his mother is Hungarian.[30]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Anon (2017). "Bellos, Alexander". Who's Who. (online Oxford University Press ed.). A & C Black, an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing plc. doi:10.1093/ww/9780199540884.013.289184. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.) (subscription required)
  2. ^ a b c "Alex Bellos at The Guardian".
  3. ^ Alex Bellos Official website
  4. ^ a b Alex Bellos at IMDb
  5. ^ "Publisher's biography of Alex Bellos".
  6. ^ Bellos, Alex (2012). "Alex Bellos: Writing about numbers". Brady Haran. Archived from the original on 16 May 2013. Retrieved 1 April 2013.
  7. ^ 'Learn to love maths' – article by Alex Bellos in The Guardian
  8. ^ "Biography from Alex Bellos's official website". Retrieved 10 April 2012.
  9. ^ "Guardian review of 'Futebol: The Brazilian Way of Life'". London: Bloomsbury Publishing. 7 October 2002. Retrieved 10 April 2012.
  10. ^ "Alex Bellos's agency profile – Janklow & Nesbit (UK) Ltd". Retrieved 11 April 2012.
  11. ^ "Alex Bellos official website – 'Pele'". Retrieved 10 April 2012.
  12. ^ "Samuel Johnson Award shortlist 2010". Archived from the original on 23 February 2012.
  13. ^ Floo, Alison (1 July 2010). "Samuel Johnson Prize reported by The Guardian". London. Retrieved 8 June 2012.
  14. ^ "Galileo prize winner – website". Archived from the original on 15 December 2018. Retrieved 17 May 2012.
  15. ^ "Alex Bellos at the Premio Galileo 2012 Awards Ceremony". Archived from the original on 19 August 2014. Retrieved 17 May 2012.
  16. ^ "PadovaCultura article on Alex Bellos".
  17. ^ a b "Premio Peano shortlist 2011". Archived from the original on 18 February 2013.
  18. ^ "Here's Looking at Euclid". Simon & Schuster (US). Retrieved 11 April 2012.
  19. ^ "The Daily Telegraph - Alex Through the Looking Glass review".
  20. ^ "BBC Brazil Inside Out". Retrieved 15 June 2014.
  21. ^ "'Et Dieu Crea le Foot', National Geographic Channel". Archived from the original on 6 September 2010. Retrieved 11 April 2012.
  22. ^ Alex Bellos (27 February 2008). "The road to development – Part 1". People & Power. Al Jazeera. Retrieved 15 June 2014.
  23. ^ Futebol: the Brazilian Way of Life on Google Scholar (including citations)
  24. ^ Review of Alex's Adventures in Numberland in The Telegraph, 2010
  25. ^ "Chalkdust Book of the Year 2019". Retrieved 15 February 2020.
  26. ^ "Blue Peter Book Awards 2017". Archived from the original on 30 June 2017. Retrieved 11 June 2017.
  27. ^ "Premio Letterario Galileo 2012".
  28. ^ Matthews, Robert (15 November 2011). "Telegraph article on the Royal Society Prize for Science Books Prize 2011". The Daily Telegraph. London. Archived from the original on 15 November 2011.
  29. ^ Bellos, Alex (2014). The Grapes of Math: How Life Reflects Numbers and Numbers Reflect Life. p. 324.[ISBN missing]
  30. ^ Bells, Alex (2017). "Alex Bellos biography".