10 Famous Authors’ Day Jobs

This week’s blog post is dedicated to famous authors’ day jobs. Whether it is/was due to financial necessity, or through choice, many authors have/had other careers.

Here are 10 famous authors and their day jobs.


Bram Stoker – (1847 – 1912) – Stoker is best remembered for his seminal work Dracula, but he also wrote 11 other novels and 3 collections of short stories. The author spent 27 years working as an acting manager and business manager for Irving’s Lyceum Theatre in London.

Joseph Conrad – (1857 – 1924) – Many of Joseph Conrad’s works have a nautical theme. This is not surprising considering that the author had a 19 year career in the merchant-marine, which began when he left his native Poland as a teenager in 1874.

Lewis Carroll – (1832 – 1898) – The author of the children’s classics Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass was a brilliant mathematician, who produced numerous books on the subject. Carroll also had stints working as an artist, photographer and Anglican cleric.

Agatha Christie – (1890 – 1976) – It was during World War I that prolific author Agatha Christie began writing detective stories. At the time she was employed as an apothecary’s assistant. Her knowledge of poisons was to come in useful in her detective stories.

Herman Melville – (1819 – 1891) – Although the author of Moby-Dick had some success with his writing in his younger years, money problems meant that he was forced to work for much of his life. Melville was employed as a customs inspector in New York for 19 years.


Arthur Conan Doyle – (1859 – 1930) – The creator of Sherlock Holmes was an important figure in the field of crime fiction. Doyle was also a practicing doctor, whose field of expertise was ophthalmology. He quit medicine to concentrate on writing full time.

Virginia Woolf – (1882 – 1941) – Woolf is regarded as one of the greatest literary innovators Britain has produced. To escape publishing houses creative restraints, Woolf and her husband started their own publishing house, Hogarth Press. In addition to her works, they published Russian translations and T.S. Eliot’s The Waste Land.

Franz Kafka – (1883 -1924) – Kafka did not receive much acclaim for his writing efforts during his lifetime. The iconic author worked in various occupations, including being employed at an insurance firm. In 1911, Kafka co-founded Prague’s first asbestos factory.

Vladimir Nabokov – (1899 – 1977) – The Russian born Nabokov was an author, chess composer and lepidopterist (someone who specialises in the study of moths & butterflies). At once time Nabokov was the curator of the moth and butterfly collection at Harvard’s Museum of Comparative Zoology.

Harper Lee – (Born: 1926) – The reclusive Harper Lee always wanted to be a writer, but in her younger years she earned a living through other endeavours. Lee had a 8 year stint working as an airline ticket agent before quitting to concentrate on her writing.




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    • Yes indeed Heather. Unfortunately for a couple of these authors their lucky break didn’t come during their lifetimes. Have a good weekend. Not long to go until the launch of your latest novel now.

  • Very interesting. It seems that some of the best writers needed to eat as well as create. I could imagine being inspected by Herman Melville. “What’s that in your valise?” ” A whale sir.” “A whale?” “Yes sir a white whale.”

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