25 Famous Authors Who Published Under the Age of 25

25 Famous Authors Who Published Under the Age of 25

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Have you ever thought about publishing a book? Many have! In fact, according to writer Joseph Epstein, “81 percent of Americans feel that they have a book in them — and should write it.” That’s roughly 200 million people who aspire to become an author! Some people just can’t wait to get published. 

They get to work on writing a manuscript, find an agent and reach out to publishers no sooner than you know it. Quite a few of these eager authors happen to be kids and teens. 

You’d be surprised at some of your favorite famous authors who published under the age of 25. Take a look at these accomplished young writers.

1. Mary Shelley

Date of birth: August 30, 1797

Best known for: Frankenstein

Mary Godwin ran away with author Percy Shelley at age 17. She later married him and took his name. At age 19, she came up with the idea for Frankenstein and began to write her manuscript. At age 21, she published the haunting novel anonymously, which led everyone to believe her husband wrote the book. It wasn’t until 100 years after her death that it was revealed that she was the actual author of Frankenstein.

2. Jake Marcionette

Date of birth: March 20, 2001

Best known for: Just Jake

Just Jake is an “autobiographical” novel about moving to a new school. Marcionette shares with readers how to make friends while avoiding the school bully. He wrote his novel at age 12, and after he completed the manuscript, he went online to discover how to get published. Two days after he conducted his research, Marcionette got an agent! His book was seventh on the New York Times bestseller list for children’s middle-grade books.

3. Minou Drouet

Date of birth: July 24, 1947

Best known for: Arbre, Mon Ami

Drouet didn’t make a peep until the age of six after she heard Brahms symphony. The music inspired her to write poetry, and she also picked up piano and guitar. Drouet published her first book, Arbre, Mon Ami at age ten. The New Yorker called it “phenomenally successful.” Drouet went on to publish five more books before the age of 23.

4. Bret Easton Ellis

Date of birth: March 7, 1964

Best known for: American Psycho

At age 21, Ellis wrote Less Than Zero, a controversial book set in Los Angeles in the early ’80s. The book tells the story of a lost generation who experience drugs and sex at too young of an age. Simon & Schuster eventually dropped the book due to the number of petitions against it. Knopf republished the book in 1985, and over 50,000 copies were sold, partially because of the controversy the book caused. His second book, The Rules of Attraction, was published when he was 23.

5. Jyoti and Suresh Guptara

Date of birth: November 22, 1988,

Best known for: The Insanity Saga

Twin brothers Jyoti and Suresh Guptara put their two creative minds to work at the age of 11, completing their first novel, Conspiracy of Calaspia. Two years after they finished their novel, it became a bestseller. By the time they turned 23, they had finished the third book in the Insanity Saga. The two have also written articles and short stories.

6. S.E. Hinton (Susan Elosie Hinton)

Date of birth: July 22, 1950

Best known for: The Outsiders

Hinton was 15 when she started writing her first book, The Outsiders. She finished it at age 16 and then went on to publish it at age 18 under the initials S.E. Hinton says that she published under her initials to avoid any sexism or prejudices.

7. Alec Greven

Date of birth:1999

Best known for: How to Talk to Girls

Greven is the author of How to Talk to Girls, which he published with Harper Collins when he was nine-years-old! He has an entire series which includes How to Talk to Moms, How to Talk to Dads, and How to Talk to Santa

8. Gordon Korman

Date of birth: October 23, 1963

Best known for: Macdonald Hall series

When Korman was 12 years old, he submitted a writing assignment to Scholastic, which became the first book in the Macdonald Hall series. The books are about two troublemakers, Bruno and Boots, and their adventures in school. By the time Korman finished high school, he had published five other books. He now has 75 books in print and has sold over seven million copies!

9. Flavia Bujor

Date of birth: August 8, 1988

Best known for: The Prophecy of the Stones

HarperCollins picked Bujor up when she wrote The Prophecy of the Stones at 12 years old. The book is about three teenage girls who come to fulfill an ancient prophecy. Her book is available in 24 different countries. She is currently working on a second book.

10. Percy Shelley

Date of birth: August 4, 1792

Best known for: Ozymandias 

Shelley published his first book of poetry at the age of 18 – Zastrozzi. At the same time, he wrote a controversial novel called The Necessity of Atheism, which got him expelled from Oxford. Before turning 24, Percy Bysshe Shelley had already written three successful poetry volumes, Alastor, Hymn to Intellectual Beauty, and The Revolt of Islam. His later works include The Devil’s Walk and Queen Mab.

11. Joyce Maynard

Date of birth: November 5, 1953

Best known for: Labor Day 

At 17, Joyce Maynard began her career in journalism by contributing to plenty of publications, such as the Seventeen magazine and The New York Times. She wrote the novel Looking Back at 19 and went on to write her bestselling novels – Labor Day and To Die For, which were both adapted for cinema a few years later.

12. Dorothy Straight

Date of birth: May 25, 1958

Best known for How The World Began 

Dorothy wrote How the World Began at age 6 in 1962 for her grandmother. As supportive as her parents were, they thought it was the best thing ever and decided to send it to the great people at Pantheon Books. And just like that, her book was released in 1964.

13. Truman Capote

Date of birth: September 30, 1924

Best known for: In Cold Blood

Capote began writing short tales when he was about eight years old. He published a steady stream of short stories between 1943 and 1946, including Miriam, My Side of the Matter, and Shut a Final Door, for which he received the O. Henry Award in 1948, at the age of 24. 

14. Zadie Smith

Date of birth: October 25, 1975

Best known for White Teeth

Zadie Smith’s debut novel, White Teeth, was published in 2000 at the age of 22. Her work quickly became a best-seller and gained widespread recognition, including the James Tait Black Memorial Prize and the Betty Trask Award. Zadie was appointed as a tenured professor in New York University’s Creative Writing Faculty in 2010.

15. Carson McCullers

Date of birth: February 19, 1917

Best known for: The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter

When McCuller was 23, she published her first novel, The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter. McCullers’ style is typically characterized as Southern Gothic as most of her writings are set in the Southern United States and include odd characters who are lonely and interspersed with genuine empathy. McCullers dictated her unfinished autobiography during her final months, Illumination and Night Glare, released in 1999.

16. Helen Oyeyemi

Date of birth: December 10, 1984

Best known for: What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours

Oyeyemi published her first story, The Icarus Girl, in high school. Bloomsbury released this work in 2005 when she was 21 years old. In 2016, she published the award-winning What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours. And her most recent book, Gingerbread, was released in 2019.

17. W. Somerset Maugham

Date of birth: January 25, 1874 

Best known for: Of Human Bondage

Coming from a highly successful household, Maugham chose not to become a lawyer like the other males in his family. Instead, he studied and became a physician. However,  Liza of Lambeth (1897), his first book at age 23, sold so well that Maugham left medicine to write full-time. Of Human Bondage, published in 1915, is largely regarded as his masterwork.

18. Gore Vidal

Date of birth: October 3, 1925

Best known for: The City and the Pillar 

Vidal, as a novelist, investigated the nature of corruption in public and private life. His narrative technique conveyed the period and location of his works while also delineating the psyche of his characters, as shown in his succeeding works until 1984. His first well-remembered and published novel, The City and the Pillar, was written at the age of 21 and published two years later. 

19. Ned Vizzini

Date of birth: April 4, 1981

Best known for: It’s Kind of a Funny Story

Vizzini suffered from depression, spending time in a mental institution in his early twenties, where he authored works about his condition. Be More Chill (2004), his debut novel, was released when he was 23 years old. And in 2006, he released It’s Kind of a Funny Story, which the National Public Radio of Washington D.C.ranked 56th among the “100 Best-Ever Teen Novels,” along with four other books for young adults.

20. Amelia Atwater-Rhodes

Date of birth: April 16, 1984

Best known for: The Den of Shadows Quartet

Rhodes is a fantasy and young adult fiction author from the United States. When she was thirteen, she penned her first novel, In The Forest of the Night. However, it was released about two years after. She has authored nine novels since then and has been featured in several American magazines. Today, she works as a Language Arts teacher while maintaining her own website, atwaterrhodes.com.

21. Charles Dickens

Date of birth: February 7, 1812

Best known for: A Christmas Carol

Many consider Charles Dickens to be the finest author of the Victorian era. Having published The Pickwick Papers at the age of 24 and twenty additional works throughout his lifetime, his works gained extraordinary fame. His best-known novella, A Christmas Carol, has been turned into films, the most recent adaptation released in 2009.

22. Victor Hugo

Date of birth: February 26, 1802

Best known for: The Hunchback of Notre Dame

Despite being recognized as one of France’s finest poets, Victor Hugo is most renowned for his novels like The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1831). Bug-Jargal, his debut novel, was published when he was 24, although he began writing it two years before. Also, many of his works, such as Les Misérables and Rigoletto, have influenced music and cinema up to this day.

23. V.S. Naipaul

Date of birth: August 17, 1932

Best known for: A House for Mr. Biswas

Miguel Street, a collection of interrelated stories centered on the titular street, was Naipaul’s first published work. However, because his publisher was concerned about its sales potential in Britain, it was his other work, The Mystic Masseur – a novel that he wrote when he was 23- that was first released to the public in 1955. Since then, he has authored several books and garnered numerous awards, including the Booker Prize in 1971 and the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2001.

24. Maureen Daly 

Date of birth: March 15, 1921

Best known for: Seventeenth Summer

Maureen Daly was an Irish-born American author best known for her 1942 novel Seventeenth Summer, which she authored at the age of 17. She was able to produce ten remarkable novels for young adults, nine books for children, and four nonfiction works during her writing career. Daly died of non-Hodgkin lymphoma on September 25, 2006, at the age of 85, in Palm Desert, California.

And the Guinness book of world records for the youngest author of a bestselling book series goes to…

25. Christopher Paolini

Date of birth: November 17, 1983

Best known for: Inheritance Cycle (a four-book series)

Paolini self-published his first book, Eragon, when he was 15. A few years down the road, he caught the eye of Random House Children’s Books, and after another round of edits, Eragon was re-released and became an instant number-one New York Times bestseller. Eragon also became a movie, and Paolini is an inspiration for young authors and offers writing and publishing advice on his website Paolini.net.

Final thoughts

Talk about motivation and inspiration! Now it’s your turn. Finish that book and get an agent for yourself too.

If you find that there never seems to be enough time in the day to accomplish your goal of getting published, our Personal Productivity course is what you need. The strategies you’ll learn in this course will help you finish your work and write the novel you’ve always wanted to.

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