Famous Authors' Harshest Rejection Letters

Cheer up, aspiring writers: Even the greatest authors in history had their share of failure

William McKeenbanner.png

It's hard to imagine that the definitive icons of literature could have been subject to the same iciness of the high-gated publishing-house "no" machines that we know all too well. Of course, even down-to-earth publishers can miss a great work sitting on their desks; with thousands of titles of varying merit clogging editors' mailboxes, it's impossible to skim every page of every slush-pile manuscript, let alone give it its proper consideration. Furthermore, some of our most adored geniuses churned out well-spotted crap before maturing into the artists we remember.

Prescience is no hard science, but hindsight can be a kick in the shins nonetheless, especially for the editors who sent these rejection letters to writers who would later become the bestselling, influential giants of their day—and ours.

This post also appears on Flavorpill, an Atlantic partner site.

Presented by

How to Cook Spaghetti Squash (and Why)

Cooking for yourself is one of the surest ways to eat well. Bestselling author Mark Bittman teaches James Hamblin the recipe that everyone is Googling.

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

How to Cook Spaghetti Squash (and Why)

Cooking for yourself is one of the surest ways to eat well.

Video

Before Tinder, a Tree

Looking for your soulmate? Write a letter to the "Bridegroom's Oak" in Germany.

Video

The Health Benefits of Going Outside

People spend too much time indoors. One solution: ecotherapy.

Video

Where High Tech Meets the 1950s

Why did Green Bank, West Virginia, ban wireless signals? For science.

Video

Yes, Quidditch Is Real

How J.K. Rowling's magical sport spread from Hogwarts to college campuses

Video

Would You Live in a Treehouse?

A treehouse can be an ideal office space, vacation rental, and way of reconnecting with your youth.

More in Entertainment

Just In