Monday, August 10, 2015

Famous Authors Who Died Broke

Lots of authors don’t find fame and fortune during their own lifetimes, even some of the biggest names you’ve never read. It’s hard to believe, but all of these famous authors died broke.

It’s Not About the Money (Because You Won’t Make Any)

Book writing is not a money-making game by any stretch of the imagination, unless you’re J.K. Rowling (but I’m pretty sure she doesn’t read this blog, so I think we’re safe there). Most authors, even the ones who manage to achieve a lasting legacy of fame and readership, actually pass from the world in relative obscurity without much money in their pockets. All of these famous names did, though you have certainly read at least one -- if not all -- of their books.

Edgar Allen Poe was a quintessential starving artist. He managed to get stories published and made some money from his writing, but not much. He struggled financially his entire life, moving from one job to another while he continued to publish his stories. When he died, he was completely broke.

Even if you haven't read his books, you've heard H.P. Lovecraft's name. He's well-known today for his horror stories, but he struggled to get published in his own lifetime. While he lived, his work only ever appeared in pulp fiction magazines that generally weren't widely- read. He lived without food so he could buy stamps sometimes. He died in his own hometown in complete poverty.

We all had to read "Moby Dick" in school, but didn't get the assignment early enough to help out author Herman Melville. He's one of the great American storytellers, but he died poor with all his works no longer in print. Melville's first book "Typee" was a bestseller, but his career steadily declined after that. He died a has-been, and never lived to see himself become a legend.

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