7 Famous Authors You Didn’t Know Regret Their Work

Did you know there were famous authors who regret their books? Here are some fun facts about these seven authors who hated their novels.

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Part of human nature is looking back at our younger selves and realizing, “wow, I was an idiot.” Mostly, these are personal reflections are not in the eye of the general public, so we can wallow in our self-pity behind closed doors. Unfortunately, that’s not true for the famous authors on our list. Their regrets are on full display for public consumption. While we can all get a good laugh out of some of these, a few understandably break our hearts.

Stephen King, Rage

Stephen King has reached an authorial success that will leave his name on reader’s lips for decades– perhaps centuries. King has only regretted one book in over five decades of writing and 65 novel-length publications, which include favorites like Carrie and It. His ire was so great that he had it removed from further printing. Rage was a novel about a high school student who took a gun to school and killed a student, two teachers, and then himself. Following the 1977 publication, several real-life schools shooting massacres were linked to his book as inspiration. Unfortunately, despite the fictional nature of his writing, an author can never know how a reader will react to or be inspired by their work.


Louisa May Alcott, Little Women

What is now a beloved classic of millions, Louisa May Alcott wishes, it was never published. Her regrets are many. From the “dull” characters to the need to publish for familial loyalty, Alcott couldn’t believe the novel’s success. Perhaps more importantly, she was disgusted at the fact that readers were obsessed with the heroine’s marital status, which missed the point. Women’s life goals are not simply about finding a husband.


William Powell, The Anarchist Cookbook

Emotionally upset at the prospect of the US sending him to Vietnam, Powell wrote a violent manifesto on homegrown terrorism. He has since vehemently posted his opposition to anyone reading it and requested the publisher who purchased the rights to the book in 2002 to remove it from shelves. He co-wrote a book entitled Becoming an Emotionally Intelligent Teacher in 2011, which he believes is “an implicit refutation of the emotional immaturity of the Cookbook.” 


Octavia Butler, Survivor

A trailblazing black female author with awards and accolades as long as papyrus scrolls, Butler is known for her originality and tenaciousness. Her 1978 publication of Survivor, a sci-fi novel, was never printed again after its initial run. Butler regretted using extensive clichés often attached to the genre and called it “offensive” and “my Star Trek novel.” Her sci-fi series, The Patternist, is one of my favorites and shows her true writing prowess, something she deservedly was immensely proud of.


JD Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye

Seen those cartoons where a cloud of dust is all that remains where a character cut out too fast? Well, comically, that’s JD Salinger after the hit release of his most infamous novel. A deeply private man, Salinger wanted little to do with fame. So much so that when The Catcher in the Rye topped the charts, he immediately disliked it and left his city and the attention he received behind. That’s one hell of an introvert. 


Agatha Christie, Hercule Poirot Novels

When one thinks of mystery novels, a few authors pop up immediately, but none more so than Agatha Christie. I find her particular regret to be the most hilarious because, as a writer and a reader, I know that there are characters out there I would love to run over with my car. Much to my amusement, Christie absolutely detested her iconic detective Hercule Poirot. She found him to be a “detestable, bombastic, tiresome, egocentric little creep.” This is even more regrettable for her as her publisher wouldn’t allow her to stop writing about him due to his popularity. In all, she wrote 33 novels and 56 short stories that feature the pompous investigator.


Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes

Can one resent themselves? I mean, as a writer, if you resent the popularity of your own book, aren’t you, in fact, resenting yourself? Well, Sir Doyle hates his character Sherlock Holmes because he (Sherlock) is a shining star. Most would love for that to be the case; however, Doyle was none too happy about the fact that the logic-employing observational detective overshadowed much of his other, more serious, works. If Doyle could only see how popular the venerable detective is over a century and a quarter later.

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