What 10 Classic Books Were Almost Called

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iStock

Remember when your high school summer reading list included Atticus, Fiesta, and The Last Man in Europe? You will once you see what these books were renamed before they hit bookshelves.

1. THE GREAT GATSBY

F. Scott Fitzgerald went through quite a few titles for his most well-known book before deciding on The Great Gatsby. If he hadn’t arrived at that title, high school kids would be pondering the themes of Trimalchio in West Egg; Among Ash-Heaps and Millionaires; On the Road to West Egg; Under the Red, White, and Blue; Gold-Hatted Gatsby; or The High-Bouncing Lover. Just weeks before publication, he cabled his publisher “CRAZY ABOUT TITLE UNDER THE RED WHITE AND BLUE STOP [WHAT] WOULD DELAY BE.” But he was talked out of it.

The author would later say of the Gatsby title, “It’s O.K. but my heart tells me I should have named it Trimalchio ... Gatsby is too much like Babbit and The Great Gatsby is weak because there’s no emphasis even ironically on his greatness or lack of it. However let it pass.”

2. 1984

George Orwell’s publisher didn’t feel the title to the author's novel, The Last Man in Europe, was terribly commercial. He recommended using the other title Orwell had been kicking around—1984.

3. ATLAS SHRUGGED

Ayn Rand referred to her magnum opus as The Strike for quite some time. In 1956, a year before the book was released, she decided the title gave away too much plot detail. Her husband suggested Atlas Shrugged—then a chapter title—and it stuck.

4. DRACULA

The title of Bram Stoker’s famous Gothic novel sounded more like a spoof before he landed on Dracula—one of the names Stoker considered was The Dead Un-Dead.

5. THE SUN ALSO RISES

Ernest Hemingway’s original title for his 1926 novel—Fiesta—was used for foreign editions, but the American English version was called The Sun Also Rises. Another supposed candidate was “For in much wisdom is much grief and he that increases knowlege [sic] increaseth sorrow.”

6. CATCH-22

Author Joseph Heller wanted to name his story Catch-18, but Leon Uris’s novel Mila 18—released the previous year—made editor Robert Gottlieb want to change the title. He and Heller looked into Catch-11, but because the original Ocean’s Eleven movie was newly in theaters, it was scrapped to avoid confusion. After toying with other numbers, his editor decided on 22, capturing the repetition of 11.

7.TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD

To Kill a Mockingbird was simply Atticus before Harper Lee decided the title focused too narrowly on one character.

8. PRIDE AND PREJUDICE

An apt precursor to the title Jane Austen finally decided on for her most beloved novel was First Impressions (it’s been proposed that a name change was needed because Margaret Holford published a novel called First Impressions; or the Portrait).

9. THE SECRET GARDEN

Mistress Mary (nowadays better known as Mary, Mary), "quite contrary, how does your garden grow?" Secretly, apparently. Mistress Mary, taken from the classic nursery rhyme, was the working title for Frances Hodgson Burnett’s The Secret Garden.

10. DUBLINERS

Originally called Ulysses in Dublin, James Joyce’s book of short stories, Dubliners, featured many characters that would later appear in his epic Ulysses a few years later.

This piece originally ran in 2010.

Two Harry Potter Books Worth Nearly $4000 Showed Up on Antiques Roadshow

Another inscribed first-edition Harry Potter book, shown at The National Library of Scotland in Edinburgh in 2017
Another inscribed first-edition Harry Potter book, shown at The National Library of Scotland in Edinburgh in 2017
Neil Hanna, AFP/Getty Images

First-edition Harry Potter books are extremely valuable—even more so if their pages contain a handwritten note from JK Rowling herself. A schoolteacher who owns early copies of Harry Potter book 1 and 2 in the series had both of these factors working in her favor when she brought them to the BBC program Antiques Roadshow for appraisal. Together, the two books are worth £2,000 to £3,000 (approximately $2600 to $3900), according to expert Justin Croft, who evaluated the books in a recent episode filmed in Aberdeenshire, Scotland.

As the Daily Express reports, a well-read paperback copy of the first book, dated 1997 and bearing the British title Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, was not a first edition. However, it did contain a thoughtful handwritten note from the author—a clear indication that it was signed prior to Rowling’s rise to stardom.

“It says, I think, ‘To the Pope family, with many thanks for introducing Harry to so many people, JK Rowling,’” Croft says, reading the inscription aloud. The second book, a first-edition hardcover copy of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets from 1998, also contained an inscription which read, “To the Pope family, again, hope you like this one as much, JK Rowling.”

The owner of the books said she read Harry Potter to her primary school students about 20 years ago. When she learned that Rowling would be doing a book signing nearby, she decided to bring her students along. “The children were so excited about it. They wanted to know what was going to happen to the characters next and they came in with money to buy the new book,” she said. “And JK Rowling took an hour with us.”

Once Rowling became a household name, she hardly had time to write a personalized note for every fan. “This is right almost back at the beginning where she’s signing quite generously, quite fully,” Croft said of the books, explaining their value.

After learning the estimate of the books, the owner replied, “I think they will be going in Gringotts’s vault tonight.”

[h/t Daily Express]

Dr. Seuss Is Getting a Funko Pop! Doll

Funko
Funko

Several characters from the world of Dr. Seuss have received the Funko Pop! treatment, including The Grinch, Horton, and Sam I Am. Now Comicbook.com reports that the man behind the whimsical stories is being immortalized as his own cute vinyl figure.

Dr. Seuss (real name: Theodor Seuss Geisel) is one of Funko's first new releases of 2019. The children's book author is depicted in his iconic gray suit and bow tie, with a copy of The Cat in the Hat tucked under his arm. He measures 3.75 inches tall—so he'll stand up to any other full-sized Funko Pop! dolls in your collection.

The Dr. Seuss Pop! is set to ship out some time in February. That means fans can get him in plenty of time to celebrate Dr. Seuss Day, a.k.a. National Read Across America Day, on March 2. Dr. Seuss was born on March 2, 1904, and if he were alive today he'd be turning 115 this year.

You can preorder the figure for $11 from Entertainment Earth. And if you're looking for more ways to honor the writer's legacy, check out these 10 stories behind his most famous books.

[h/t Comicbook.com]

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