“Embrace the glory of age.”
― Lailah Gifty Akita
With age comes wisdom. Yet, nowadays, the young ones have a tendency to overlook the elderly. People above a certain age group are stereotyped and considered frail. Believe it or not, ageism is a thing. Many of us just don’t think that the elderly can do anything productive. In fact, some may even scoff if someone decides to make a career change after forty. However, you will be surprised to know that many great luminaries actually started their careers which made them famous pretty late in life. This is true for the writing field as well. You will be surprised to know that some of your favorite authors picked up their writing mantle way into their forties. Yet, they have proved themselves and made their mark in the literary field.
This International Day of Older People, let us remember ten literary stalwarts who started their writing careers pretty late in life.
Priscilla B Shuler
Literary Career Started At: 75
Priscilla B Shuler gave wings to her literary aspirations when she was well into her seventies. To date, the multi-award-winning author has written seven amazingly engaging books. The Medallion, RAT, Daddy Jack’s Place, Favored, Kuimba, Two Can Play, and The Hunter are all intriguing books tackling different themes that will keep you glued to the pages.
Literary Career Started At: 66
Frank McCourt won the Pulitzer Prize when he was in his sixties. It was for his book, Angela’s Ashes which he published in 1996. Based on his impoverished childhood in Ireland and struggling adulthood in New York, the book went on to tug at the heartstrings of millions.
Laura Ingalls Wilder
Literary Career Started At: 65
Laura Ingalls Wilder’s autobiographical book, Little House on the Prairie made her a household name. Based on her life as the daughter of a pioneer family, the book was even made into a television series in the seventies. She penned the book when she was sixty-four at the urging of her daughter. Before that, she had a pretty successful career as a columnist which she started at the age of forty-four.
Literary Career Started At: 57
Black Beauty is an all-time children’s classic novel. You would be surprised to know that it was Anna Sewell’s only published work. In her fifties, Sewell wished to raise awareness about animal protection. Hence, she began to write Black Beauty. She finally published it when she was fifty-seven. Regrettably, she left this world only five months later. Yet, she left her mark on our hearts.
Literary Career Started At: 57
Award-winning author Annie Proulx realized her literary dreams when she was fifty-seven years old. Postcards, her first novel, won the Faulkner Award while her second novel, The Shipping Cards, bagged the Pulitzer Prize and the U.S. National Book Award for Fiction. Some of her works were even adapted to the silver screen.
Literary Career Started At: 51
The Great Depression took over the United States in the 1930s. Raymond Chandler was one of the many victims of this financial crisis. He lost his job at an oil company. Yet, this did not deter him. Chandler started a brand new career as an author of detective novels in his forties. He published his first short story only a year after being fired in 1933. In 1939, he came up with his first novel, The Big Sleep. Then, there was no looking back. During his lifetime, he published a ton of short stories, screenplays, and six detective novels.
Literary Career Started At: 52
Richard Adams is one of the most acclaimed children’s authors. He was one of the only six to have won both the Carnegie Medal and Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize. It may surprise many to know that Adams began his illustrious literary career when he was fifty-two. His first book, Watership Down, which was actually a story that he told his daughters during their childhood, went on to sell millions of copies and even be made into an animated movie.
Marquis de Sade
Literary Career Started At: 47
Marquis de Sade equated scandal during his lifetime. He was a thorough libertine who regularly raised the brows of his peers with his antics. Nevertheless, he was a talented writer. His debut novel, Justine, was indeed a marvel. Astonishingly, he penned it when he was forty-seven, while imprisoned at the Bastille.
Literary Career Started At: 45
Known as the Father of Modern Fantasy Literature, J.R.R. Tolkien made waves with his The Lord of the Rings series. His books became all the rage. With over 150 million copies sold around the world, they are one of the all-time bestsellers. They were even made into films and even TV series. You will be surprised to know that Tolkien published the first book in the trilogy, The Hobbit, in 1937 when he was forty-five years of age.
Literary Career Started At: 41 years
We all know about Mark Twain. Hailed as the Father of American Literature, Twain began his literary career at the age of forty-one. His first book, Innocents Abroad, was published in 1869. The instant bestseller propelled Twain to popularity. Soon, he came up with the world famous, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Overall, he penned around twenty-eight literary gems that are still widely read around the world.
Many of us are stuck in a daily grind that we call life. When we are at a certain age, we stick to our tedious jobs as we believe that it is the right thing to do. In the process, we give up on our dreams. There are few men and women who are able to break from this mold. They gather up the courage and pursue their dreams against all odds.
The authors on this list have all achieved great success. More importantly, they have managed to eke out a place in the hearts of their readers and achieve immortality. They have indeed proven that age is just a number.
Do comment and let me know which of these amazing authors are your favorites.