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5 Writers Who Didn’t Get Published Until They Were Over 50

Topics: Over 50s, Positive thinking, Inspiration

There are many positives related to getting older and one of them is of course that with age, comes wisdom… and for a writer, some degree of wisdom is essential!

A deep understanding of the world and a more sophisticated grasp on what makes human beings tick are two of the most important traits a writer can have… and if you’ve spent any time at all wishing you could write a great novel or a wonderful film, then you’ll probably be interested to hear that for many writers, that moment doesn’t come for them until they’ve been around for quite a while!


Of course, there are exceptions; those wunderkinds who manage to trot out their opus before they reach the age of consent; the university student who writes a critically acclaimed film before graduation… but they are rare and they’re rare for a reason.

Writing anything worth publishing takes an enormous amount of dedication, self-control, effort and time! For a lot of younger hopefuls, life tends to get in the way. Families and work are most often cited as the main reasons that emerging writers never quite get the time to emerge!

If you’re over 50 then the chances are, you’ve already begun to find that you have a little more time to devote to your ambitions. Don’t lose hope! There are many, many internationally successful writers who didn’t make it till’ they were older. Hang on in there and read about some of the most inspiring “older writers” who got their recognition later in life.

Catherine Cookson

Beloved and gifted writer of almost 100 books, Catherine Cookson didn’t even attempt writing till’ she was in her 40s. Her first novel was published as she approached 50 but throughout her next decades, she flourished and rose to fame thanks to her unswerving dedication to writing stories based on her own upbringing in poverty-stricken South Shields. She wrote prolifically until her death aged 90 and during her lifetime received many awards.

Laura Ingalls Wilder

The creator of the charming Little House on the Prairie books didn’t begin writing until she was over 60 and her book, Little House in the Big Woods based on her own pioneer childhood, wasn’t published until she was 65.


Richard Adams

Author of Watership Down, the beautiful children’s story of a colony of rabbits and their struggle for survival in a changing world. The late Richard Adams did not get picked up by a publisher until he was 54. He’d told the tales to his children during long car journeys and as they grew in complexity, he wrote them down, eventually seeking a publisher. The book was rejected several times before finally being accepted by Rex Collings Ltd and went on to win the Carnegie Medal and The Guardian Prize.

Raymond Chandler

Following the loss of his job in the oil industry, Raymond Chandler turned to writing. Later he said that he considered The Great Depression to have been part of his inspiration for writing what became a smash hit; The Big Sleep was received to great critical acclaim and he was 51 when it was published.

Charles Bukowski

Having worked all his life in a post office, Bukowski had toyed with short fiction in his early twenties but had discarded ideas of being a writer because he didn’t like the way the industry worked. When Bukowski was recovering from alcoholism in his 40s, a publisher happened upon his work by chance and persuaded him to write a novel. Post Office was completed and published to widespread acclaim when Bukowski was 51 years old.

These few writers represent an enormous band of gifted people who for various reasons, didn’t get the chance to write seriously until their later years.

They’re a great reminder that it’s never too late.

Can you think of any more? Let us know in the comments below!