Here are 8 posthumously famous authors.
Franz Kafka is today regarded as one of the greatest European writers of the 20th Century. Born in Prague in what was then The Austro-Hungarian Empire, Kafka did not find fame during his lifetime, and what little of his writing was published received only scant attention from the public. Kafka, though always committed to his craft, spent his days working in a variety of roles in the insurance sector, and later managing a family-owned asbestos factory.
Click here to read my review of The Metamorphosis and Other Stories.
Emily Dickinson was a prolific poet with over 1700 poems to her name. During her lifetime Dickinson had fewer than a dozen poems published, and it was only after her death that she became famous. Her very private nature was undoubtedly one reason for her lack of acclaim during her lifetime. Today she is remembered as an iconic poet and one of the most acclaimed American female writers of all time.
Karl Stig-Erland ‘Stieg’ Larsson
Larsson was a renowned journalist and an independent researcher. However, at the time of his death in 2004 aged 50, his Millennium Series were unpublished manuscripts sitting in his house. The trilogy saw the author achieve posthumous fame. In 2008 Larsson was the second highest selling author in the world. The Millennium Series has been adapted for film and television. To date over 60 million copies of the Millennium Series have been sold worldwide.
Sylvia Plath was a well-regarded poet during her short-life. Examples of her early success included winning The Glascock Prize for poetry in 1955. Plath, who had a history of depression, committed suicide in 1963. Her semi-autobiographical novel The Bell Jar, published a month before her death in the UK and in the US in 1971, went on to achieve critical acclaim. In 1982 Plath won the coveted Pulitzer Prize posthumously for The Collected Poems.
Click here to read my review of The Bell Jar.
Jane Austen achieved a degree of recognition during her lifetime, but she received little personal renown, due in part because she published anonymously. After her death her books became steadily more popular. It was the 20th Century that saw Jane Austen’s meteoric rise to iconic status. Today the author’s fame has transcended the literary world, evidence of which is her being ranked number 70 out of ‘100 Greatest Britons of all time’.
Thompson is best remembered for his paperback pulp novels. He became well known for The Killer Inside Me (1952), and later wrote and co-wrote Hollywood screenplays. This success was only fleeting however and when he died in 1977 he was largely forgotten. Today he is widely acclaimed as being one of the greatest crime writers of all time. His novels are back in print and two of them have been adapted for the silver screen.
Henry David Thoreau
Henry David Thoreau’s prodigious writing output consists of nearly 20 volumes of writing. He self-published one of his book’s, A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers, but only sold 300 of the 1000 copies that he had printed. It was only after his death in 1862 that he began to receive the attention that he deserved. The event that was to herald this transformation was the publishing of his journal in 1906.
Edgar Allan Poe
Edgar Allan Poe was an author, poet, literary critic and editor who flirted with fame for much of his working life. If it were not for his rather premature death, the cause of which is debated to this day, Poe might have become famous. Today he is remembered not only as being one of the earliest American practitioners of the short story, but is also generally considered to be the inventor of the detective fiction genre.
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