14 Well-known Writers who Started Their Career after 50

old book

Forget about the fiction that great authors have to dedicate the entire life to become valuable part of literary community. There inspirational article is to give you an understanding that it is never late to do your favorite task. The life does not end after you celebrate your 40th or 50th birthday. Moreover, at this age you become mature and have extensive experience that is significant for being an interesting author. So, get ready to become acquainted with 14 great authors that could be also named “old authors” as they started their individual writing career after 50.

1. Donald Ray Pollok

This author is famous by the 2011 novel “the Devil of the Time”. And hardly one knows that the artistic collection of this author is pretty small. Interestingly, Pollok has quitted his high school program when he was 17 and worked at the meat packing plant and at the paper mill factory till his late fifties. At this “late age” he understood the necessity of education, enrolled in the Ohio University and published the set of short stories. So, Donald Ray Pollok started his literary career in 55.

2. Laura Ingalls Wilder

Laura started as freelance writer and columnist in one of the newspapers when she was 44. However, her true literary career began with the publishing of her first book – the novel “Little House in the Big Woods”. This autobiographical book was the first of the series. It was published when Wilder was 64 years old.

3. Anna Sewell

Anna Sewell is famous for her work “Black Beauty”. It is the only work of this author. She started her work on this book when she was 51. By that time, she had hepatitis and serious health problems. She dictated the text to her mother, who wrote it down. Six years later, few months before her death, Sewell sold her book.

4. Frank McCourt

“Angela’s Ashes” is the memoir that brought fame to the Irish author Frank McCourt. The Pulitzer Prize winning work was first published when the author, Frank McCourt was 66 years old.

5. Harriet Doerr

The National Book Award winner, Harriet Doerr, published her first book when she was 74. Doerr was born and raised in California. At the age of 40 she moved to Mexico, where her husband worked on the restoration of the family cooper mine. After his death, Doer returned to California, acquired the Bachelor’s degree from Stanford University and started writing. Her first novel “Stones of Ibarra” is a valuable achievement that became possible only due to extensive life experience of the author.

6. Millard Kaufman

Millard Kaufman was a screenwriter. However, his first authorship in novels occurred at the age of 90. The first novel “bowl of Cherries” saw the world when Kaufman was 90. The second novel was published posthumously.

7. Bram Stoker

Bram Stoker served in civil service for many years. Thereafter, he helped running London Lyceum Theater by writing interesting reviews. He wrote some essays and novels that did not attract readers. However, the real fame for the author, and the start of literate career, was brought by the novel “Dracula” that was written by Stoker at the age of 50.

8. Richard Adams

Adams did a good career in U.K. civil services, while story-telling was his hobby. At some point, the stories became so sophisticated that the author had to record them. The adventure novel “Watership Down” was first noticed and published when Adams was 54. Afterwards, Adams’ book became the bestseller and won a number of prestigious awards (among which are the Carnegie medal and the Guardian prize).

9. Raymond Chandler

The author’s inspiration for writing was the Great Depression that left Chandler without job. Being out of the market, he decided to write the detective novels. His first and most famous book “The Big Sleep” was published when the author was 51.

10. George Eliot

Mary Ann Evans wrote her novels under the male pen-name George Eliot (to sound more authoritative as women at that time were associated only with romance). The first book “Adam Bede” was written while Eliot was 40. However, her real fame came 12 years later, when she published the book “Middlemarch”.

11. Charles Bukowski

…published his first novel at 51.
Bukowski worked at the post office for the great part of his life. At the age of 49 he received an offer from publisher John Martin. His first novel “The Post Office” was published when Bukowski was 51. He gave up his work at the post office and dig into the world of art and literature.

12. Wallace Stevens

The first works of Stevens were published when he was 35. However, the majority of his poems that attract the attention of the readers and critiques were written after he reached the age of 50. He won the Pulitzer Prize for the set “Collected Poems” just few months before his death at the age of 75.

13. Marquis De Sade

The writing career of the famous philosopher Marquis de Sade started at the age 47, when he was serving his time in prison. There, he wrote the first book “Justine” that was published only four years later, when de Sade was 51 years old.

14. Mary Wesley

Mary Wesley published her first book “Speaking terms” at 57. The series of three books for children were followed by a rich collection of novels for adults. At 84 she gave up writing fiction saying that she had already said everything she could. The final book, autobiographical, was published when Wesley was 89, a year before her death.


This list of “old authors” confirms that it is never late to start writing. And, we hope that this inspirational article will serve as a reminder that our mind is never old for art.