Who hasn’t heard about people who debut their first novel earlier in life? Those talented writers that become celebrated in the world of books at a young age while others get a bit down for not having had the same luck as those fellows…
Don’t get me wrong! It’s great to hear about those “30 under 30″ stories. Yet, sometimes it seems as if the pressure for accomplishing things in life, in this case, in the publishing industry, just keeps narrowing down and there’s a deadline. That doesn’t sound quite encouraging, does it?
Fortunately, there have been talented authors that changed the plot-line of the “successful stories” by debuting their works of fiction at or after the age of 40.
Here are some accomplished women authors that didn’t “make it” until later in life, proving that one can achieve the dream of becoming a writer at any stage of life.
What better way to start this list than with the woman who wrote Middlemarch? Before putting out said book, which has been considered by many as the greatest novel ever written in English, Mary Ann Evans, better known as George Eliot, publish her first book, Adam Bede, when she was 40!
This novel received praises from well-known Charles Dickens for its psychological realism and polished crafting, exemplifying Eliot’s skillful writing style. Twelve years later, George Eliot would publish Middlemarch.
From then on, she would become one of the most celebrated Victorian novelists. Since it was a time where female writers weren’t taken seriously, Mary Ann took her pen name (George Eliot) in order to fulfill her dreams of writing.
Talk about defying the status quo!
Another celebrated female author who triumphed later in life was Toni Morrison. The late Pulitzer Prize Winner didn’t publish her first novel, The Bluest Eye, until she turned 40!
Before then, Morrison was an editor at Random House— the first African American female editor of the publisher, to be exactly. Once The Bluest Eye hit the shelves, Toni Morrison’s literary career kicked off, establishing herself as an acclaimed writer.
With renowned titles like Beloved and Song of Solomon, Morrison received many awards and nominations for her writing works, such as National Book Critics Circle Award and the Nobel Prize in Literature.
Hats off to the late Toni Morrison for accomplishing all those merits throughout her life!
DeWitt’s case is a true example of never giving up your true passion. Although her debut book, The Last Samurai, is now a highly-praised novel, which was published when she was 41, Helen DeWitt author’s journey had many fragments of abandoned book manuscripts.
After quitting her job, struggling with many writing attempts, and taking a series of service jobs to support herself as she tried to finish her 50th book draft, The Last Samurai, DeWitt finally fulfilled her hopes of publishing a work of fiction of her own. It received pleasing reviews from The New Yorker, The Guardian, and many more.
Sue Monk Kidd
Though she had already written three memoirs, the first during the beginning of her 40s, Sue Monk Kidd published her first novel when she turned 54: The Secret Life of Bees.
The author’s coming-of-age fiction earned praised from the critics, sold more than six million copies, and has been published in 35 countries. Kidd’s book also became part of New York Times best seller list for two and a half years.
From there, the author would delve into the fiction genre by writing acclaimed novels, like The Mermaid Chair and The Invention of Wings.
Wanna know when Harriet Doerr became a promising author in the literary field? Her golden age of writing kicked off when she was 74! Though she was a Stanford University student, Doerr interrupted her education once she got married.
Many years later, after encouraged by her son Michael, Harriet enrolled in Stanford to finish her studies. Thanks to this, she began to write short stories and earned a Stegner Fellowship, a Stanford creative writing scholarship program.
In 1984, Doerr published her first novel, Stones for Ibarra, which won a National Book Award of the same year. Harriet’s instance is definitely an encouraging real life story that there’s no time limit for career achievement!
The late English novelist became an outstanding writer at the age of 57 with Black Beauty, her only published work. Before daring to craft her own stories, Sewell used to help her mother, who was a children’s author, as she edited many books over the years.
Sewell began writing Black Beauty during the last decade of her life for she was struggling with illness. Anna wanted to write a book that would help raise awareness of animals’ fair treatment.
Though she sadly passed away, Sewell lived long enough to see her book turn into a huge success, considered by many as one of the top ten best selling novels for children.