Infographic: Authors First Book by Age

We tend to think that successful authors were published when they were young- we’re talking early 20’s or before. But some of the most well-known authors didn’t get published until their 40s, 50s, or later! Of course, there are many who’s first published work came out when they just hit double-digits. 

We did some research and found out how old some of the most famous authors were when they published their first book ever. The ages may surprise you!

Here’s a close up:

And since we know it’s hard to see, we’ve listed it out!


S.E. Hinton 18 The Outsiders
Christopher Paolini 18 Eragon
Mary Shelley 20 Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus
Bret Easton Ellis 21 Less Than Zero
Helen Keller 22 The Story of My Life
Stephen Crane 22 Maggie: A Girl of the Streets
F. Scott Fitzgerald 23 This Side of Paradise
Leo Tolstoy 23 Childhood
Charles Dickens 24 The Pickwick Papers
Ken Follet 24 The Big Needle
Ernest Hemingway 26 In Our Time (a collection of short stories, but sometimes listed as a book)
Stephen King 26 Carrie
Jack Kerouac 27 The Town and the City
Herman Melville 27 Typee: A Peep at Polynesian Life
John Steinbeck 27 Cup of Gold
Vladimir Nabakov 27 Mary
H.G. Wells 28 The Time Machine
Elie Wiesel  28 Night
Gabriel Garcia Marquez 28 Leaf Storm
Albert Camus 28 The Stranger
Joan Didion 28  Run, River
Salman Rushdie  28 Grimus
James Baldwin 29 Go Tell it on the Mountain 
George Orwell 29 Down and Out in London and Paris
Margaret Atwood 29 The Edible Woman
George R.R. Martin 29 Dying of the Light
Neil Gaiman 29 Good Omens (with Terry Pratchett)
William Faulkner 29 Soldiers’ Pay
Sylvia Plath 30 The Bell Jar
Meg Cabot 31 Where Roses Grow
J.K. Rowling 31 Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone
Charlotte Bronte  31 Jane Eyre
Ayn Rand 31 We the Living
Henry David Thoreau 31 A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers
J.D. Salinger 32 The Catcher in the Rye 
Ray Bradbury 33  Fahrenheit 451
Chuck Palahniuk 34 Fight Club
Harper Lee 34 To Kill a Mockingbird
John Grisham 34  A Time to Kill 
Anne Rice 34 Interview with the Vampire
Paola Coelho 34 Hell Archives
Oscar Wilde  35 The Picture of Dorian Gray
Gillian Flynn 35 Sharp Objects
Jane Austen 36 Sense and Sensibility
Mark Twain 37 The Gilded Age: A Tale of Today
Amy Tan 37 The Joy Luck Club
Joseph Conrad  38 Almayer’s Folly
Khaled Hosseini  38 The Kite Runner
Erik Larson 38 The Naked Consumer
Anthony Burgess 39 Time for a Tiger
Ralph Ellison  39 Invisible Man
Toni Morrison 39 The Bluest Eye
George Eliot 40 Adam Bede
Sherwood Anderson 40 Windy McPherson’s Son
Maya Angelou 41  I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings
R.L. Stine 42 Blind Street
Henry Miller 43 Tropic of Cancer
Bram Stroker 43 The Snake’s Pass
Alex Haley 44 The Autobiography of Malcolm X
L. Frank Baum 44  The Wonderful Wizard of Oz
JRR Tolkien 45 The Hobbit 
E.L. James 48 50 Shades of Grey 
Richard Adams 52 Watership Down
Laura Ingells Wilder 65 Little House in the Big Woods
Frank McCourt 66 Angela’s Ashes
Mary Wesley 70 The Camomile Lawn
Karl Matlantes 64 Matterhorn
Franz Kafka Posthumous The Trial
Stieg Larsson Posthumous The Girl With the Dragon Tatoo