How Old Were These Famous Writers When They Made It Big?

As a writer sometimes there can be unbearable pressure to ‘make it big’ at a certain age, but as we can see here, it is a hugely variable thing.

The Youngsters

Stephen King was 26 years old when he sold his first book, Carrie.

Veronica Roth sold the publishing rights to her book series “Divergent” before she left college, age 22

Anna Todd found huge success on Wattpad with the “After” series, the print edition of the first book came out when she was 25 years old.

At the age of 27, Virginia Woolf had her first book published “The Voyage Out”

Charles Dickens was 24 when the wildly successful “The Pickwick Papers” was serialised.


J. K Rowling famously thought of “Harry Potter” in 1990 when she was 25, then Philosopher’s Stone came out in 1997, when she was 32 and she completed the series in 2007, aged 42.

Despite publishing his first book at age 26 James Patterson kept his day job and didn’t get a bestseller until he was 40 years old.

George Eliot published her first novel, “Adam Bede” at the age of 40, it was an instant success and she went on to publish six more hugely successful novels.

Toni Morrison published her first novel “The Bluest Eye” when she was 40.

Late Bloomers

J. R. R. Tolkien published “The Hobbit” at 45 years old and for the next ten years worked on his trilogy, “Lord of the Rings” which was published over the years 1954 and 1955, by which time he was 63.

Daniel Defoe published his debut novel, “Robinson Crusoe” at age 59.

Crime writer Raymond Chandler was 51 before he published his first novel “The Big Sleep”

Millard Kaufman published his first novel at age 90, “Bowl of Cherries”

Posthumous Success

Jane Austen managed to sell “Sense and Sensibility” in her lifetime and “Pride and Prejudice” (despite being rejected) and yet she earned a total of £600 (£20,000) in her lifetime and it was only after she passed away that her books rose to stratospheric success.

Stieg Larrson passed away in 2004, afterwards his “Millenium” series was discovered, including “The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo”, gaining him the title of 2nd best selling author in 2008.

Zora Neale Hurston passed away after writing “Their Eyes Were Watching God” never seeing the success it later garnered which resulted in Zora being heralded a fearless genius.