10 Hugely Successful Authors Who Got Their Start Later in Life

For aspiring writers , it can take a while for your writing be discovered or feel like it’s going anywhere, but it’s never too late in life to publish a book, and there are many examples of this. So if your working on something and feel like your work isn’t taking off the way it should, I think these ten authors will help you feel better about yourself and give you hope for your writing career!


1.Toni Morrison

Age: 40


Image via Clyde Fitch Report

Toni Morrison was forty when her first book The Bluest Eye was published in 1970. She eventually won the Pulitzer Prize in 1988 for her incredible book Beloved. Now, she is professor at Princeton University, and in 1993, she won the 1993 Nobel Prize in Literature. Forty may seem like a late start for many people, but there is so much you can accomplish in life without the rush!

2. Mark Twain

Age: 41


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One of the most famous authors in American culture, Twain’s first book The Innocents Abroad  was published in 1869, when Twain was forty-one. It instantly became a bestseller, leading him to write The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn in 1876. Twain is often called The Father of American Literature for his honest descriptions and understanding of American culture during the late 1800s. He went on to write twenty-eight books and his still heavily researched and discussed.

3. Marcel Proust

Age: 43


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The French writer Proust published  In Search of Lost Time (later translated to Remembrance of Things Past) was published in seven parts over the course of 1913 to 1927. His work dives deep into the psychology of social classes and does amazing job discussing social issues and how are childhood reflects our adult life.


4. Henry Miller

Age: 44


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Miller’s first book Tropic of Cancer in Paris was published in France in 1934, when Miller was forty-four, and was banned in the United States due to America’s laws pornography. This ban was overturned in 1961, at the peak of the sexual revolution during the 60s. Tropic of Cancer is the first book in Miller’s semi biographical trilogy about his experiences in Paris and New York. Miller discusses numerous topics in a stream of consciousness style.

5. J.R.R. Tolkien

Age: 45


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J.R.R. Tolkien published The Hobbit in 1937. He is best known for The Lord of the Rings trilogy, which sold over 150 million books sold worldwide. Tolkien is called the “father” of modern fantasy literature, he was ranked 5th in Forbes highest earning ‘dead celebrity’ in 2009. His novels were even made into films that have racked up millions in the box office and as of 2017, Amazon bought the rights to make his novels into television series that will based of stories written by Tolkien outside of the original books.

6. Raymond Chandler

Age: 51


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Author and screenwriter, Raymond Chandler’s first book The Big Sleep was published in 1939 when he was fifty-one. He’s known for being the father of the ‘hard boiled’ subgenre of crime fiction, and his first break was getting his short story Blackmailers Don’t Shoot published in Pulp Magazine after losing his job during the Great depression in 1933.  Chandlers’ book Farewell, My Lovely was adapted to the big screen in three separate occasions. He co-wrote Double Indemnity with Billy Wilder which was nominated for an Academy Award! Chandler was widely praised and was looked up to by writers Ian Fleming and Paul Levine.


7. Richard Adams

Age: 52


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Adams first book Watership Down came out in 1972 and was quickly adapted to an animated children’s film. Originally, he would tell the story to his two daughters during long car rides and once it was released, it gained international acclaim, selling over a million copies, Adams became one of six authors to garner both the Carnegie Medal and Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize.

8. Annie Proulx

Age: 57


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Annie Proulx first novel Postcards won the Faulkner Award and her her second novel The Shipping Cards won the Pulitzer Prize and U.S National Book Award for Fiction in 1993. Her short story Brokeback Mountain was adapted to a film, starring Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal and went on to win in the BAFTA, Golden Globes and Academy Awards after the film’s release in 2005.

9. Laura Ingalls Wilder

Age: 65


Image via Publisher Weekly

Laura Ingalls Wilder most notable work is the beloved children’s book series The Little House on the Prairie. Set between 1932 and 1943, the books were based on her upbringing in a family of pioneers and settlers. The book series became a hit television series in the late 1970’s.

10. Frank McCourt

Age: 66


Image via Wikipedia

McCourt is a Pulitzer Prize winning novelist for his book Angela’s Ashes published in 1996 based on his poverty-stricken childhood between Brooklyn to Ireland. McCourt won the Pulitzer Prize for Biography or Autobiography in 1997 and the 1996 annual National Book Critics Circle Award for Angela’s Ashes.

So if you’re feeling like you are not where you want to be with your writing, life is long, you still have a lot of time to put your thoughts onto the page.


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