Alex Bellos was born in Oxford and grew up in Edinburgh and Southampton. He studied mathematics and philosophy at Corpus Christi College, Oxford, where he was the editor of the student paper Cherwell. His father, David Bellos, is a translator and academic.
During a five-year stint (1998–2003) as South America correspondent of The Guardian, he wrote the book Futebol: the Brazilian Way of Life. 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.
Returning to live in the UK, Bellos decided to write about mathematics. The book Alex's Adventures in Numberland came out 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. 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."
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 and the 2011 Peano Prize for mathematics books. In the United States, the book was given the title Here's Looking at Euclid.
Alex Through The Looking-Glass: How Life Reflects Numbers and Numbers Reflect Life came out in 2014 to 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.”  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), and also authored the documentary Et Dieu créa…le foot, about football in the Amazon, which was shown on the National Geographic Channel. His short films on the Amazon have appeared on BBC, More 4 and Al Jazeera. 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. He lives in London.
Awards and honours
- 2017 Blue Peter Book Award for Best Book with Facts, shortlist, Football School: Where Football Explains the World
- 2012 Premio Letterario Galileo, winner, Il meraviglioso mondo dei numeri
- 2012 Peano Prize, winner, Il meraviglioso mondo dei numeri
- 2011 Royal Society Winton Prize for Science Books, shortlist, Alex's Adventures in Numberland
- 2010 Amazon.com, Best Books of 2010: Science, Here's Looking at Euclid
- 2010 Galaxy British Book Awards, Non-Fiction Book of the Year, shortlist, Alex's Adventures in Numberland
- 2010 BBC Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction, shortlist, Alex's Adventures in Numberland
- 2004 British Book Awards, Sports Book of the Year, shortlist, Futebol: The Brazilian Way of Life
- 2003 National Sporting Club British Sports Book Awards, shortlist, Futebol: The Brazilian Way of Life
- Futebol: The Brazilian Way of Life (2002)
- Pelé, The Autobiography (2006) (as ghostwriter)
- Alex's Adventures in Numberland/Here's Looking at Euclid (2010)
- Brazil Inside Out (2003), BBC
- Alex Through the Looking-Glass/The Grapes of Math (2014)
- Football School: Where Football Explains the World with Ben Lyttleton and illustrated by Spike Gerrell (2016)
- Bellos, Alex (2014). The Grapes of Math: How Life Reflects Numbers and Numbers Reflect Life. p. 324.
- "Biography from Alex Bellos's official website". Retrieved 10 April 2012.
- "Alex Bellos Guardian profile". The Guardian. London. 18 October 2007. Retrieved 10 April 2012.
- "Guardian review of 'Futebol: The Brazilian Way of Life'". London: Bloomsbury Publishing. 7 October 2002. Retrieved 10 April 2012.
- "Alex Bellos's agency profile – Janklow & Nesbit (UK) Ltd". Retrieved 11 April 2012.
- "Alex Bellos official website – 'Pele'". Retrieved 10 April 2012.
- "Samuel Johnson Award shortlist 2010".
- Flood, Alison (1 July 2010). "Samuel Johnson Prize reported by The Guardian". London. Retrieved 8 June 2012.
- "Galileo prize winner – website".
- "Alex Bellos at the Premio Galileo 2012 Awards Ceremony".
- "PadovaCultura article on Alex Bellos".
- "Premio Peano shortlist 2011".
- "Here's Looking at Euclid". Simon & Schuster (US). Retrieved 11 April 2012.
- "The Daily Telegraph - Alex Through the Looking Glass review".
- "BBC Brazil Inside Out". Retrieved 15 June 2014.
- "'Et Dieu Crea le Foot', National Geographic Channel". Retrieved 11 April 2012.
- Alex Bellos (27 February 2008). "The road to development – Part 1". People & Power. Al Jazeera. Retrieved 15 June 2014.
- "Blue Peter Book Awards 2017". Book Trust. Retrieved 11 June 2017.
- Matthews, Robert (15 November 2011). "Telegraph article on the Royal Society Winton Prize for Science Books shortlist 2011". The Daily Telegraph. London.
- Official website
- Publisher's biography
- Alex Bellos on Internet Movie Database
- Alex Bellos on Facebook
- Alex Bellos on Twitter
- Review of Alex's Adventures in Numberland in The Telegraph, 2010
- 'Learn to love maths' – article by Alex Bellos in The Guardian
- 'Loops' and 'Everything and Nothing'- Alex Bellos on Radiolab
- Interview with Alex Bellos on YouTube
- Futebol: the Brazilian Way of Life on Google Scholar (including citations)
- Bellos, Alex. "Alex Bellos: Writing about numbers". Numberphile. Brady Haran.