millard kaufman

Old(er) Writers: It’s Never Too Late

Writing doesn’t have an age range. There is no too young or too old to start writing or get published. People of all ages have made an impact on the writing world. Here I have compiled a short list of writers whose debut book was written or published after they turned 50.

Richard Adams published Watership Down when he was 52 years of age. It became an immediate success and Adams won the two most prestigious children’s book awards in Britain. He became a full time author two years later after the publishing of his second book.

Laura Ingalls Wilder was 66 when her first novel, Little House in the Big Woods, was published by Harper & Brothers in 1932. She followed up the initial book’s success with seven more in the series prior to her death. The series has since sold over 60 million copies worldwide and has been translated into 30+ languages.

Anna Sewell started writing Black Beauty, her first and only novel, in 1871 The book was published in 1877 when she was 57 years old. Black Beauty has sold over 50 million copies, making it one of the best selling books of all time.

Frank McCourt won the Pulitzer Prize for his first book, Angela’s Ashes, a memoir he published at 66. He followed up his success with two more memoirs, ‘Tis and Teacher Man. His books sold over 10 million copies.

Millard Kaufman started writing novels after a long career as a screenwriter. He began his first novel, Bowl of Cherries, when he was 86 and published it four years later at age 90. His second novel was published posthumously.

Bryce Courtenay was 56 when his first novel, The Power of One, was published. He has gone on to write over a dozen more novels and is one of Australia’s best selling authors. He still writes today at age 79.

Donald Ray Pollock worked at a paper mill until he was 50 when he enrolled in Ohio State University’s English program and published a short story collection four years later. The Devil All the Time, his first novel, was published in 2011 when he was 57.

Nirad C. Chaudhuri was a political commentator in India and published his first book in 1951, An Autobiography of an Unknown Indian. He was 54. He continued on to write an additional ten books, the last published three years before his death when he was 99.

Mary Wesley was 57 when her first two children’s novels were published in 1969, but she didn’t achieve fame until she began writing novels for adults in 1983. She wrote and published a total of seven novels during her 70s. Her books have sold over 3 million copies.

Young Writers: It’s Never Too Early

This Day in History: March 12

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In 1917, screenwriter Millard Kaufman was born in Baltimore. He graduated from Johns Hopkins University and served in the Marines before moving to California, eventually earning two Oscar nominations for his work on “Take the High Ground!” and “Bad Day at Black Rock.” Kaufman was also one of the creators of cartoon character Mr. Magoo. (Baltimore Sun file photo)

1912: Juliette Gordon Low founded the Girl Guides, which later became the Girl Scouts of the United States of America.

1912: At Jefferson Barracks, Mo., Army Capt. Albert Berry made the first parachute jump from an airplane.

1922: Jack Kerouac, the Beat Generation novelist, was born in Lowell, Mass.

1951: “Dennis the Menace,” created by cartoonist Hank Ketcham, made its syndicated debut in 16 newspapers.

1987: “Les Miserables” opened on Broadway.

Compiled by Laura Lefavor and Paul McCardell.