Authors Who “Debuted” After 40

And me…

The Book Report with Elaine Charles


Magazines are full of “20 under 20” features, extolling the virtues of youth – but there are plenty of literary greats who didn’t get started until later in life.

Here are six of the most famous:

Samuel Clemens worked as a steamboat pilot, newspaper reporter and travel writer before he finally published his first novel. He adopted the penname Mark Twain, (steamboat slang for “12 feet of water”), at age 41, when he published The Adventures of Tom Sawyer in 1876. He was 50 when The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn was published as the archetypal great American novel.

Daniel Defoe published his debut novel, Robinson Crusoe at 59. Earlier in life he worked as a merchant, selling wine and wool, but went bankrupt in 1703, at age 43. He then wrote several political pamphlets in support of King William III before he turned to novels.

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