Unlike footballers, or Olympic athletes, writers don’t have to reach the peak of their success before hitting thirty. Many authors finally get published later in life, after years of rejection slips. Others don’t even start writing until their children have grown up, or they’ve retired. So, whatever age you are, as Frank McCourt said, “Keep scribbling! Something will happen.”
1. Bram Stoker
Stoker had written various short stories, reviews and some non fiction, however he didn’t publish his first book, The Snake’s Pass, until he was 43. Seven years later he wrote Dracula, writing another seven novels in the next fifteen years.
2. Anna Sewell
Sewell only published one book – the classic Black Beauty which she began writing at aged 51, whilst in declining health. She dictated much of it to her mother, and died of hepatitis at 57, only months after her novel was published.
3. Laura Ingalls Wilder
Author of Little House on the Prairie, Ingalls Wilder began writing at 44 years old, working as a columnist, but published her first book, Little House in the Big Woods at the age of 64.
4. Raymond Chandler
At 44 years old, Chandler lost his job as an oil company executive and started writing, publishing his first short story the next year, in 1933, and his first and most famous novel, The Big Sleep, in 1939.
5. Charles Bukowski
Although Bukowski sold a few stories to magazines in his twenties, he became disillusioned and gave up writing to dedicate himself to a decade of drinking. He began to write poetry in the late ’50s, but he was 51 years old when his first novel was published in 1971.
6. Richard Adams
Civil servant Richard Adams wrote fiction in his spare time, telling stories about rabbits to his children on long car rides. The tales developed over time, and eventually he felt the need to write them down.Watership Down was finally published when Adams was fifty-four years old.
7. Mary Wesley
An inspiration to ‘ladies of a certain age’, Wesley’s first novel for adults was Jumping the Queue, published in 1983 when she was 70 years old. Her second novel, The Camomile Lawn was published the next year.
8. Frank McCourt
McCourt started writing only when he’d retired from teaching, when his wife told him to write down his stories, rather than just telling them down the pub. His first book, Angela’s Ashes, was published when he was 66 years old. He went on to win the Pulitzer, National Book Critics Circle Award, and L.A. Times Book Award. Angela’s Ashes was made into a film, and McCourt went on to write two more memoirs.