Famous Authors' Harshest Rejection Letters

More

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.

Jump to comments
Presented by
Get Today's Top Stories in Your Inbox (preview)

What's the Number One Thing We Could Do to Improve City Life?

A group of journalists, professors, and non-profit leaders predict the future of livable, walkable cities


Elsewhere on the web

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

Adventures in Legal Weed

Colorado is now well into its first year as the first state to legalize recreational marijuana. How's it going? James Hamblin visits Aspen.

Video

What Makes a Story Great?

The storytellers behind House of CardsandThis American Life reflect on the creative process.

Video

Tracing Sriracha's Origin to Thailand

Ever wonder how the wildly popular hot sauce got its name? It all started in Si Racha.

Video

Where Confiscated Wildlife Ends Up

A government facility outside of Denver houses more than a million products of the illegal wildlife trade, from tigers and bears to bald eagles.

Video

Is Wine Healthy?

James Hamblin prepares to impress his date with knowledge about the health benefits of wine.

Video

The World's Largest Balloon Festival

Nine days, more than 700 balloons, and a whole lot of hot air

Writers

Up
Down

More in Entertainment

Just In