At first a soldier in the German revolution of ’48, Carl Schurz busted out his friend from a prison in Berlin, fled on a boat to Edinburg, emigrated to the US, became a Union General in the Civil War, then US Senator, and later secretary of the interior. Mark Twain wrote his obituary.
C.S. Lewis nominated J.R.R. Tolkien for the 1961 Nobel Prize for Literature. He was rejected on the grounds that his writing “has not in any way measured up to storytelling of the highest quality.”
When Charles Dickens was 12 years old, his father was thrown into prison for debt. Charles was forced to leave school and work ten-hour days at a boot factory in order to help support his family. The poor conditions of the working class became a major theme in several of his works.
Barbara Cartland wrote 723 novels – an average of more than 9 a year over her career. In 1976 she wrote 23 – still a world record.
Ian Fleming named his character “Goldfinger” after the stern architect Ernő Goldfinger, whom he despised. When Ernő filed a suit over the name, Fleming threatened to rename the character “Goldprick”. Ernő dropped the suit in exchange for legal fees and six copies of the book.
It took Ray Bradbury 9 days to write his novella, The Firemen, in the basement of a UCLA library on a typewriter rented for 10¢/30 minutes. After being urged by his publisher, he returned to the basement, got to work, and expanded his novella into Fahrenheit 451, which also took 9 days to write.
In 1898, Morgan Robertson wrote a novel about an ocean liner sinking in the North Atlantic after hitting an iceberg. That is 14 years before the Titanic sunk in the same place and in the same way. And if this was not enough, the novel was titled: “The Wreck of the Titan: Or, Futility”. The ship in the novel, just like in real life, was touted as “unsinkable” and therefore did not have enough lifeboats aboard to accommodate all the passengers.
26 years before Titanic, William Thomas Stead wrote a story called “How the Mail Steamer Went Down in Mid Atlantic by a Survivor.” The title’s pretty descriptive, with the concern of the story being a lack of adequate safety precautions, specifically lifeboats. Stead himself would die on Titanic.
Author Barbara Follet, who published her first book at 12, vanished under strange circumstances. Her disappearance eerily resembles the last paragraph in her final book. “She would be invisible forever to all mortals, save those few who have minds to believe, eyes to see, to these she is ever present, the spirit of Nature—a sprite of the meadow, a naiad of lakes, a nymph of the woods.”
Even after he became a famous writer and military officer, Winston Churchill was constantly overshadowed by his friend Winston Churchill.