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23 Writers Who Were Famous by Age 23

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While it's not as easy for authors to become famous at a young age as it is for pop singers, it's still not unheard of for barely legal authors to find fame, success, and even fortune. Here are 23 authors who manager to achieve fame—though not always positive—by age 23.

1-2. Guptara Twins

Date of Birth: November 22, 1988
Best Known For: The Insanity Saga (fantasy trilogy)
At age 11, the UK-born but Swiss-based fraternal Guptara twins completed the first draft of their first novel, Conspiracy of Calaspia. At 15, Jyoti was published in The Wall Street Journal. By age 17, their Conspiracy of Calaspia had become a bestseller; Jyoti and Suresh are considered two of the world's youngest bestselling authors. At age 20, the twins were selected as two of the "100 Most Important Swiss" by Schweizer Illustrierte magazine. That same year, the second book in the saga, Warrior Code/Codex Cumulus, was released in German. Now 23, the twins have recently completed book three in their saga.

3-4. Winner Twins

Date of Birth: c.1995 (not publicized)
Best Known For: The Strand Prophecy (sci-fi trilogy)

By age 12, identical twins Brianna and Brittany had completed their first novel, The Strand Prophecy. At age 13, their book reached national distribution through Barnes & Noble. By the end of 10th grade, Brianna and Brittany had completed 4 novels, a screenplay, a comic book, and a guide to writing. At age 17, the twins were featured on the "Young Icons" show on the CW. The third and final novel in their Strand series and the first book in a new series are expected to be published this year, all before they graduate high school. Oh, and to top it all off, they're dyslexic.

5. Gordon Korman

Date of Birth: October 23, 1963
Best Known For: Macdonald Hall (children's series)
At age 12, in 7th grade, Korman sent one of his completed writing assignments in to Scholastic; the manuscript was published that same year as This Can't Be Happening at Macdonald Hall, which became the first in a series. At 17, Korman received an Air Canada Award for promising authors in Canada. By the end of high school, he had published five books. At age 23, he had 11 books in print. Now 48, his books--more than 75 of them--have sold upwards of 7 million copies. One of his series, The Monday Night Football Club, was turned into the 4-season TV show "The Jersey" on the Disney Channel; Macdonald Hall, that series he started in 7th grade, was optioned as a TV show, but not produced.

6. Mary Shelley

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Date of Birth: August 30, 1797
Best Known For: Frankenstein: or, The Modern Prometheus
When she was almost 17 years old, Mary Godwin fell in love with Percy Shelley, who was five years her senior; just before her 17th birthday, they ran away to France together. Before she was even 18, she had given birth and suffered the death of her baby. At age 18, she gave birth to a son. At age 19, Mary came up with the idea for Frankenstein while spending the summer in Switzerland and she began writing the manuscript. Later that year, she married Percy Shelley and gave birth to a daughter. Before her 20th birthday, Mary had completed the Frankenstein manuscript. When she was 20, Mary edited and published History of a Six Weeks' Tour, journaling her group's 1814 trip. At age 21, her novel was published, though anonymously, leaving readers to assume the author was Percy Shelley. Also while 21, she endured the deaths of both her children, but gave birth to another son at age 22. During that time, she wrote 2 novels and 2 plays.

7. Percy Shelley

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Date of Birth: August 4, 1792
Best Known For: "Ozymandias" and Ode to the West Wind
By 18, Shelley published one novel, Zastrozzi, and 2 collections of poetry, one with his sister Elizabeth and the other with his friend Thomas Jefferson Hogg. At age 18, while attending Oxford, he published another novel, St. Irvyne; or, The Rosicrucian, and a treatise on atheism. The pamphlet got him in trouble with the administration at Oxford, resulting in his expulsion at age 18. Shortly after turning 19, Shelley eloped with a 16-year-old, Harriet Westbrook.Age 20 brought the publication of a ballad, The Devil's Walk. By age 21, he had published another major poem, Queen Mab. When he was 22, he abandoned his pregnant wife Harriet and ran away with 16-year-old Mary Godwin. Before he turned 24, Shelley published 3 more works.

8. Minou Drouet

Date of Birth: July 24, 1947
Best Known For: Arbre, Mon Ami
By age 6, Drouet reportedly was not yet speaking but, when she heard a Brahms symphony, she swooned, and began speaking upon awakening. She also began to write poetry. When she was 8 years old, Drouet's poetry was read and discussed by the French writing community, with some believing the young girl's adoptive mother was the true author. Within a year, Drouet had proven her ability by writing poems solo in front of witnesses, including a test for admission to France's Society of Authors, Composers and Music Publishers. When Drouet was about 9 years old, André Parinaud published a book about her, L'Affaire Minou Drouet. In 1957, at 10 years old, Drouet published her first book, Arbre mon ami, which was, according to the New Yorker, "phenomenally successful." From roughly age 10 to age 18, Drouet was on tour as both an author and a musician--she played piano and guitar. During that time, she published 3 more books. Around age 19, she took a 2-year hiatus from public life before becoming a singer-songwriter and children's novelist around age 21.
Before age 23, Drouet had published 2 more books.

9. Alec Greven

Date of Birth: c.1999 (not publicized)
Best Known For: How to Talk to Girls (children's book)
At just 9 years old, Greven published his first book, How to Talk to Girls, which started out as a project for school. Between February 2008 and April 2009, he appeared on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, Late Night with Conan O'Brien, and The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. By January 4, 2009, the book had made it onto the New York Times bestseller list. In 2009, Greven published three more books: How to Talk to Moms, How to Talk to Dads, and How to Talk to Santa. In 2010, at roughly 11-years-old, he published Rules for School. His books are available in 17 countries.

10. Hilda Conkling

Date of Birth: 1910
Best Known For: Poems by a Little Girl (collection of poetry)
When she was 4 years old, Hilda Conkling began composing poetry, reciting them to her mother, who would record the poems. Mrs. Conkling would later read the poems back to her daughter, who would correct anything her mother had recorded incorrectly. Between ages 4 and 10, Hilda wrote most of her poetry; during that time, her poems were published in magazines, including Good Housekeeping. At age 10, her first collection of poetry was published, Poems by a Little Girl. At age 12, her second collection, Shoes of the Wind, was published, followed by a third collection, Silverhorn, at age 14. When she was 15, her poems were included in the anthology Silver Pennies.

11. Helen Keller

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Date of Birth: June 27, 1880
Best Known For: The Story of My Life (her autobiography)
At 19 months, Keller fell ill and was left both deaf and blind. When she was 6, she was able to communicate with her family through a collection of more than 60 gestures developed over the years. Shortly before Keller's 7th birthday, Anne Sullivan arrived to serve as her instructor. At age 11, Keller wrote a short story, "The Frost King," that she sent as a gift to the head of the Perkins School for the Blind; the story was then published in the school's alumni magazine, followed by a deaf-blind education journal, The Goodson Gazette. A controversy erupted over the story, which was said to be strikingly similar to Margaret Canby's "Frost Fairies." At age 12, Keller endured a "trial" of sorts at Perkins, including a 2-hour interrogation; although the trial ended in Keller's favor, Michael Anagnos, the head of Perkins, had lost all trust in Keller and Sullivan, and Keller suffered a nervous breakdown. When she was 22, while attending Radcliffe College, Keller published her autobiography, The Story of My Life.

12. Jean Nicolas Arthur Rimbaud

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Date of Birth: October 20, 1854
Best Known For: Une Saison en Enfer (extended poem)
At age 15, Rimbaud's poem "Les Étrennes des orphelins" ("The Orphans' New Year's Gift") became his first poem in print when it was published in Revue pour tous. At age 16, Rimbaud wrote "Le Bateau ivre," which he sent to the poet Paul Verlaine as an introduction. A month before his 17th birthday, Rimbaud travelled to Paris at the request of Verlaine and began a brief but torrid affair with the older poet. Shortly before his 18th birthday, Rimbaud left Paris with Verlaine, who abandoned his wife and child, to move to London. When he was almost 19, Rimbaud returned to Paris; when Verlaine later joined him, the reunion did not go well, and Verlaine shot at Rimbaud in a drunken rage, hitting Rimbaud in the wrist. (As a result of the ensuing police investigation into the attempted murder as well as the two men's relationship, Verlaine received a 2-year prison sentence.) When he was 19, Rimbaud published Une Saison en Enfer, Rimbaud's first and only work published by himself. By age 20, Rimbaud had given up creative writing for good. When he was 21, he enlisted in the Dutch Colonial Army, but subsequently deserted once he got to the Dutch East Indies. (Though Rimbaud had only one published work before the age of 23, he had many other poems circulating through the French literary scene, and he was well-known, if in large part for his relationship with Verlaine.)

13. Barbara Newhall Follett

Date of Birth: March 4, 1914
Best Known For: The House Without Windows
By age 4, Follett was already writing poetry. At age 12, she wrote her first novel, The House Without Windows, with help from her father, Wilson Follett, a critic and editor. When she was 13, Follett's book was published by Knopf to great acclaim, bringing fame to the young author. At age 14, she published The Voyage of the Norman D. to more critical acclaim; that same year, her father walked out on the family. Over the next few years, Follett wrote several more manuscripts, but she never published anything else, and she disappeared at age 25.

14. Amelia Atwater-Rhodes

Date of Birth: April 16, 1984
Best Known For: In the Forests of the Night (YA fantasy)
When she was 13, Atwater-Rhodes wrote her first novel, though she had more than a dozen stories in development, and first met her agent. At age 15, Atwater-Rhodes saw the publication of In the Forests of the Night, her first book, though it was a year later than expected. The month following her 16th birthday, she published Demon in My View, a sequel to her first book. At age 17, Atwater-Rhodes graduated high school a year early and published Shattered Moon, her third book. About 8 months after the publication of Shattered Moon, when she was 18, Atwater-Rhodes published Midnight Predator. At age 19, she published her fifth novel, Hawksong, her first non-vampire book, which won Best Book of the Year from the School Library Journal.Age 20 saw the publication of Snakecharm, followed by Falcondance at age 21, Wolfcry at age 22, and Wyvernhail at age 23. In the meantime, she had also managed to graduate magna cum laude with a double major from University of Massachusetts Boston and was featured in numerous publications, including Seventeen and The New Yorker.

15. Christopher Paolini

Date of Birth: November 17, 1983
Best Known For: Eragon (YA fantasy)
At age 15, Paolini graduated high school and then began writing his first book. Three years later, when he was 18, his book Eragon was published by his parents' company and Paolini embarked on a 135-stop promotion tour. That same year, Eragon was discovered by Carl Hiaasen and bought by Knopf. When he was 19, Paolini's book was re-published and landed on the New York Times bestseller list. At age 21, Paolini wrote an essay for the anthology Guys Write for Guys Read and published his second book in the Inheritance Cycle series, Eldest. At just 23 years old, Paolini saw his first novel adapted into a major motion picture.

16. Alexander Pope

Date of Birth: May 21, 1688
Best Known For: The Rape of the Lock
As a child of 12, Pope wrote "Ode on Solitude," which was not published at the time but would later be included in most anthologies of his work. When he was 21, Pope rocketed to fame with the publication of his Pastorals as part of the publisher Jacob Tonson's Poetical Miscellanies. Right around his 23rd birthday, Pope released An Essay on Criticism, which, though published anonymously, was also well-received. (The Rape of the Lock, arguably Pope's most famous work, was first published when he was 24.)

17. S.E. Hinton

Date of Birth: July 22, 1950
Best Known For: The Outsiders (YA fiction)
At age 15, Hinton began work on her first book, and she completed the book at age 16. When she was 18, her first novel, The Outsiders, was released under the initials S.E. instead of the name Susan to avoid any sexism or prejudice. For 3 years, Hinton suffered writer's block as a result of the publicity and pressure--including being dubbed "The Voice of the Youth"--surrounding The Outsiders. Over the course of 1970, Hinton wrote her second book in two-page-a-day increments; she married her boyfriend a few months after completing the manuscript during the summer she turned 20. In 1971, she published her second novel, That Was Then, This Is Now. Both of Hinton's pre-23-years-old novels were adapted into major motion pictures.

18. Joyce Maynard

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Date of Birth: November 5, 1953
Best Known For: At Home in the World (memoir)
At age 12, Maynard won her first student writing prize from the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards; she also won in 1967, 1968, 1970, and 1971. As a teenager, she was a writer for Seventeen magazine while she attended Phillips Exeter Academy for high school. At age 17, as she started classes at Yale, Maynard submitted her work to the New York Times Magazine, who hired her to write an article. When she was 18, her article "An Eighteen Year Old Looks Back on Life was published in The New York Times Magazine, which lead to a complimentary letter from 53-year-old J.D. Salinger. Before her 19th birthday, Maynard had exchanged 25 letters with Salinger, had dropped out of school following her freshman year, and had moved in with Salinger at his home in New Hampshire, where Maynard stayed for 10 months. In 1973, Maynard published her first book, the memoir Looking Back, in which Salinger is not mentioned, at his request. At age 20, she bought her first house with the proceeds from her memoir. Between the ages of 20 and 23, Maynard contributed to the CBS radio and television series "Spectrum." In 1975 at the ripe old age of 23, she was hired as a general reporter at the New York Times. (Maynard is most well-known for her 1999 memoir, At Home in the World, as it was the first time she revealed her relationship with Salinger in writing.)

19. William Cullen Bryant

Date of Birth: November 3, 1794
Best Known For: "Thanatopsis" (poem)
When he was 13, Bryant published "The Embargo," a satirical poem attacking President Thomas Jefferson; the poem quickly sold out, necessitating a second (expanded) edition, due in part to publicity over Bryant's age. Sometime around 1813 (or earlier or later, depending on your source), when Bryant was a young adult, he wrote what would become known as "Thanatopsis." When he was 21, Bryant was inspired to write the poem "To a Waterfowl" after watching a duck flying across the sunset. (The poem was not published for another 2.5 years.) In 1816, he began practicing law, since poetry didn't pay very well. When Bryant was 22 years old, his father submitted some of his son's verses to the North American Review, where the pieces were joined together and given the title "Thanatopsis" (though it was mistakenly attributed to Mr. Bryant instead of his son); the poem was well-received.

20. Kaavya Viswanathan

Date of Birth: c.1986 (not publicized)
Best Known For: How Opal Mehta Got Kissed, Got Wild, and Got a Life (YA fiction)
While in high school, the India-born but America-based Viswanathan showed an assortment of her writing to her private college admissions counselor, was then signed to the William Morris Agency, and received a two-book deal with Little, Brown and Company. During the summer after high school and her freshman year at Harvard, Viswanathan completed the manuscript for her first book. When Viswanathan was a 19-year-old sophomore, How Opal Mehta Got Kissed, Got Wild, and Got a Life was published, the movie rights were bought by DreamWorks, and Viswanathan was featured in the New York Times. But less than a month after the book's release, Viswanathan became embroiled in controversy when allegations of plagiarism were raised. By the end of Viswanathan's sophomore year, she had been accused of plagiarizing 5 different prominent authors: Megan McCafferty, Salman Rushdie, Sophie Kinsella, Meg Cabot, and Tanuja Desai Hidier. By the start of her junior year, Viswanathan had been interviewed for numerous stories about the plagiarism allegations, she had lost her book deal, all copies of her book had been recalled by the publisher (and first editions were being sold on eBay for triple their original price), and production of the film adaptation had been halted, though the scandal didn't affect her status at Harvard. In 2008, Viswanathan graduated with honors; she made the news again briefly the following year when she entered Georgetown University as a first-year law student. (Post-23, she has presumably graduated from Georgetown; she also suffered the deaths of her parents in a plane accident in 2011.)

21. Bret Easton Ellis

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Date of Birth: March 7, 1964
Best Known For: American Psycho
In the 1980s before he published any books, Ellis was a part-time musician. At age 21, Ellis had written his first novel, Less Than Zero, for which the movie rights were purchased before the book was even published. When the book was published in 1985, it was criticized by many and petitions against the book caused Simon & Schuster to drop Ellis. That same year, Less Than Zero became a bestseller when re-published by Knopf, due in part to the controversy; it sold 50,000 copies in 1985. At age 23, Ellis published his second novel, The Rules of Attraction. The same year, Less Than Zero was adapted into a major motion picture which Ellis initially hated, though he now feels "sentimental" towards it.

22. Stephen Crane

Date of Birth: November 1, 1871
Best Known For: The Red Badge of Courage
By age 4, Crane had taught himself to read and was already writing. He was 8 when he first enrolled in school and completed the work of two grades in just six weeks. At age 14, Crane wrote "Uncle Jake and the Bell Handle," his first known story. When he was 16, he joined the staff of his brother's news bureau for the summer. At 18, his first signed article was published. At 19, his story "Great Bugs of Onondaga" was published in two newspapers; he then decided to leave school to devote himself to working as a reporter and writer. Over the course of 1892, when Crane was 20, he had 14 unsigned stories published in the New York Tribune. That same year, one of his stories for the Tribune created a firestorm of controversy when the subjects felt they were being ridiculed; Crane's work for the Tribune ended that year. At 21, Crane self-published his first book, A Girl of the Streets, later titled Maggie: A Girl of the Streets, which is considered "the first work of American literary Naturalism." Also at age 21, Crane began work on a war novel, selling stories to newspapers to make money and simultaneously writing a handful of poems each day; his first collection of poems, The Black Riders and Other Lines, was accepted by a publisher that year. Just after turning 23, Crane's war story, The Red Badge of Courage, was published serially in newspapers, and he embarked on a trip through the West (of the U.S.) to write syndicated newspaper articles. While 23, Crane began work on 2 new novels--The Third Violet and George's Mother--and finally saw the publication of The Black Riders, which caused some commotion over its unconventional poetry. Also while he was 23, Crane's The Red Badge of Courage was published in book form and spent 4 months on bestseller lists around the country, with two or three more printings in 1895.

23. Helen Oyeyemi

Date of Birth: December 10, 1984
Best Known For: The Icarus Girl
During her time studying for A levels, Oyeyemi wrote her first novel, The Icarus Girl. At college, she wrote two plays that were performed at school and later published by a British publishing company. When she was 20, Oyeyemi's The Icarus Girl was published. Two years later, at age 22, her second novel, The Opposite House, was published by Bloomsbury.

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11 Ridiculously Overdue Library Books (That Were Finally Returned)
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Last week, Massachusetts's Attleboro Public Library received a big surprise when one of its regular patrons returned a copy of T.S. Arthur's The Young Lady at Home ... more than 78 years after it had been checked out. 

The man, whose name was not revealed, was reportedly helping a friend clean out his basement when he came across the tome. He recognized the library's stamp, then noticed its original due date: November 21, 1938. “We were amazed,” said Amy Rhilinger, the library’s assistant director. “I’ve worked here for 15 years, and I’ve never seen anything like this before.”

Because the library charges $.10 per day for overdue books, the total bill for this dusty read would come to about $2800—but the library isn't planning to cash in. “We’re not the library police," Rhilinger said. "We’re not tracking everyone’s things. Everyone returns things a few [days] late, and it’s one thing we joke about here.”

Though it's rare, the decades-overdue book's return is not unprecedented. Here are 11 more tardy returns.

1. The Versatile Grain and the Elegant Bean: A Celebration of the World’s Most Healthful Foods by Sheryl and Mel London

LOANED FROM: The Lawrence Public Library in Lawrence, Kansas
YEARS OVERDUE: 21

In 2014, someone anonymously returned this fitness-friendly cookbook, which had been missing since September 24, 1992. The volume, published that April, contains over 300 recipes—and it’s probably safe to assume that the culprit had plenty of time to try out every single one of them.

2. The Real Book About Snakes by Jane Sherman

LOANED FROM: The Champaign County Library in Urbana, Ohio 
YEARS OVERDUE: 41

Like the previous entry, whoever turned in this musty old field guide declined to reveal his name. But lest anyone question the man’s honesty, he also left the following note: “Sorry I’ve kept this book so long, but I’m a really slow reader! I’ve enclosed my fine of $299.30 (41 years, 2 cents a day). Once again, my apologies!”

3. Days and Deeds: A Book of Verse for Children’s Reading and Speaking compiled by Burton and Elizabeth Stevenson

LOANED FROM: The Kewanee Public Library in Kewanee, Illinois
YEARS OVERDUE: 47

According to Guinness World Records, the $345.14 fee paid by the borrower of this lyrical compilation stands as the highest library fine ever paid.

4. The Fire of Francis Xavier by Arthur R. McGratty

LOANED FROM: The New York Public Library, Fort Washington Branch, in New York, New York
YEARS OVERDUE: 55

In 2013, this one was discreetly mailed in and the perpetrator was never brought to justice (be on guard, Big Apple bibliophiles).

5. The Adventures of Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi

LOANED FROM: The Rugby Library in Warwick, England 
YEARS OVERDUE: 63

The item found its way home during an eight-day “fines amnesty period,” which shielded the guilty patron from a £4000 penalty. “It’s amazing to think how much the library has changed since that book was taken out in 1950,” said librarian Joanna Girdle. 

6. The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

LOANED FROM: The Chicago Public Library in Chicago, Illinois 
YEARS OVERDUE: 78

Harlean Hoffman Vision found a rare edition of this novel nestled amongst her late mother’s personal effects and vowed to set things right. “She kept saying, ‘You’re not going to arrest me?’” recalled marketing director Ruth Lednicer, “and we said, ‘No, we’re so happy you brought it back.’”

7. Master of Men by E. Phillips Oppenheim

Amazon, Public Domain

LOANED FROM: The Leicester County Library in Leicester, England
YEARS OVERDUE: 79

Oppenheim was born in the surrounding region and, hence, the Leicestershire County Council was thrilled to reclaim this piece of their literary heritage after it turned up in a nearby house—even though the library branch it originally belonged to had shut down decades earlier.

8. Facts I Ought to Know About the Government of My Country by William H. Bartlett

Amazon, Public Domain

LOANED FROM: The New Bedford Public Library in New Bedford, Massachusetts
YEARS OVERDUE: 99

Stanley Dudek of Mansfield, Massachusetts claims that his mother—a Polish immigrant—decided to brush up on American politics by borrowing this volume from the New Bedford Library in 1910. “For a person who was just becoming a citizen, it was the perfect book for her,” says Dudek.

9. Insectivorous Plants by Charles Darwin

LOANED FROM: The Camden School of Arts Lending Library in Sydney, Australia
YEARS OVERDUE: 122

An Australian copy of Darwin’s treatise on bug-eating flora was borrowed in 1889. After two World Wars, Neil Armstrong’s moon landing, and the birth of the internet, it was finally returned on July 22, 2011.

10. The Ancient History of the Egyptians, Carthaginians, Assyrians, Babylonians, Medes and Persians, Macedonians, and Grecians (volume II) by Charles Rollin

LOANED FROM: The Grace Doherty Library in Danville, Kentucky
YEARS OVERDUE: 150 (approximately)

In 2013, this tome was discovered at a neighboring school for the deaf, where it had presumably been stored since 1854 (as evidenced by a note written inside dating to that year). The library owns no records from this period, so exactly how long it was gone is anybody’s guess, but, said librarian Stan Campbell, “It’s been out of the library for at least 150 years."

11. The Law of Nations by Emmerich de Vattel

LOANED FROM: The New York Society Library in New York City
YEARS OVERDUE: 221

Five months into his first presidential term, George Washington borrowed this legal manifesto from the historic New York Society Library. For the next 221 years, it remained stowed away at his Virginia home, and organization officials wondered if they’d ever see it again. “We’re not actively pursuing overdue fines,” joked head librarian Mark Bartlett. “But we would be very happy to see the book returned.” His wish was granted when Mount Vernon staff finally sent it back in 2010 (luckily, they dodged a whopping $300,000 late fee).

An earlier version of this post appeared in 2014.

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11 Popular Quotes Commonly Misattributed to F. Scott Fitzgerald
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F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote a lot of famous lines, from musings on failure in Tender is the Night to “so we beat on, boats against the current” from The Great Gatsby. Yet even with a seemingly never-ending well of words and beautiful quotations, many popular idioms and phrases are wrongly attributed to the famous Jazz Age author, who was born on this day in 1896. Here are 11 popular phrases that are often misattributed to Fitzgerald. (You may need to update your Pinterest boards.)

1. “WRITE DRUNK, EDIT SOBER.”

This quote is often attributed to either Fitzgerald or his contemporary, Ernest Hemingway, who died in 1961. There is no evidence in the collected works of either writer to support that attribution; the idea was first associated with Fitzgerald in a 1996 Associated Press story, and later in Stephen Fry’s memoir More Fool Me. In actuality, humorist Peter De Vries coined an early version of the phrase in a 1964 novel titled Reuben, Reuben.

2. “FOR WHAT IT’S WORTH: IT’S NEVER TOO LATE OR, IN MY CASE, TOO EARLY TO BE WHOEVER YOU WANT TO BE.”

It’s easy to see where the mistake could be made regarding this quote: Fitzgerald wrote the short story “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” in 1922 for Collier's Magazine, and it was adapted into a movie of the same name, directed by David Fincher and starring Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett, in 2008. Eric Roth wrote the screenplay, in which that quotation appears.

3. “OUR LIVES ARE DEFINED BY OPPORTUNITIES, EVEN THE ONES WE MISS.”

This is a similar case to the previous quotation; this quote is attributed to Benjamin Button’s character in the film adaptation. It’s found in the script, but not in the original short story.

4. “YOU’LL UNDERSTAND WHY STORMS ARE NAMED AFTER PEOPLE.”

There is no evidence that Fitzgerald penned this line in any of his known works. In this Pinterest pin, it is attributed to his novel The Beautiful and Damned. However, nothing like that appears in the book; additionally, according to the National Atmospheric and Oceanic Association, although there were a few storms named after saints, and an Australian meteorologist was giving storms names in the 19th century, the practice didn’t become widespread until after 1941. Fitzgerald died in 1940.

5. “A SENTIMENTAL PERSON THINKS THINGS WILL LAST. A ROMANTIC PERSON HAS A DESPERATE CONFIDENCE THAT THEY WON’T.”

This exact quote does not appear in Fitzgerald’s work—though a version of it does, in his 1920 novel This Side of Paradise:

“No, I’m romantic—a sentimental person thinks things will last—a romantic person hopes against hope that they won’t. Sentiment is emotional.” The incorrect version is widely circulated and requoted.

6. “IT’S A FUNNY THING ABOUT COMING HOME. NOTHING CHANGES. EVERYTHING LOOKS THE SAME, FEELS THE SAME, EVEN SMELLS THE SAME. YOU REALIZE WHAT’S CHANGED IS YOU.”

This quote also appears in the 2008 The Curious Case of Benjamin Button script, but not in the original short story.

7. “GREAT BOOKS WRITE THEMSELVES; ONLY BAD BOOKS HAVE TO BE WRITTEN.”

There is no evidence of this quote in any of Fitzgerald’s writings; it mostly seems to circulate on websites like qotd.org, quotefancy.com and azquotes.com with no clarification as to where it originated.

8. “SHE WAS BEAUTIFUL, BUT NOT LIKE THOSE GIRLS IN THE MAGAZINES. SHE WAS BEAUTIFUL FOR THE WAY SHE THOUGHT. SHE WAS BEAUTIFUL FOR THE SPARKLE IN HER EYES WHEN SHE TALKED ABOUT SOMETHING SHE LOVED. SHE WAS BEAUTIFUL FOR HER ABILITY TO MAKE OTHER PEOPLE SMILE, EVEN IF SHE WAS SAD. NO, SHE WASN’T BEAUTIFUL FOR SOMETHING AS TEMPORARY AS HER LOOKS. SHE WAS BEAUTIFUL, DEEP DOWN TO HER SOUL.”

This quote may have originated in a memoir/advice book published in 2011 by Natalie Newman titled Butterflies and Bullshit, where it appears in its entirety. It was attributed to Fitzgerald in a January 2015 Thought Catalog article, and was quoted as written by an unknown source in Hello, Beauty Full: Seeing Yourself as God Sees You by Elisa Morgan, published in September 2015. However, there’s no evidence that Fitzgerald said or wrote anything like it.

9. “AND IN THE END, WE WERE ALL JUST HUMANS, DRUNK ON THE IDEA THAT LOVE, ONLY LOVE, COULD HEAL OUR BROKENNESS.”

Christopher Poindexter, the successful Instagram poet, wrote this as part of a cycle of poems called “the blooming of madness” in 2013. After a Twitter account called @SirJayGatsby tweeted the phrase with no attribution, it went viral as being attributed to Fitzgerald. Poindexter has addressed its origin on several occasions.

10. “YOU NEED CHAOS IN YOUR SOUL TO GIVE BIRTH TO A DANCING STAR.”

This poetic phrase is actually derived from the work of philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, who died in 1900, just four years after Fitzgerald was born in 1896. In his book Thus Spake ZarathustraNietzsche wrote the phrase, “One must have chaos within to enable one to give birth to a dancing star.” Over time, it’s been truncated and modernized into the currently popular version, which was included in the 2009 book You Majored in What?: Designing Your Path from College to Career by Katharine Brooks.

11. “FOR THE GIRLS WITH MESSY HAIR AND THIRSTY HEARTS.”

This quote is the dedication in Jodi Lynn Anderson’s book Tiger Lily, a reimagining of the classic story of Peter Pan. While it is often attributed to Anderson, many Tumblr pages and online posts cite Fitzgerald as its author.

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