Toni Morrison

Toni Morrison

Are you a late bloomer? I am. I didn’t start writing until I was 38 (after a career as a licensed psychotherapist), and I am just now hitting my writing stride at 58. My first novel, Seeking Sara Summers, was published when I was 52. My seventh novel, Temple Secrets, came out this year.

Now that my books are selling well, I’ve played around with the idea of slowing down and maybe walking at the river more, but I don’t see myself doing that any time soon. I just love writing way too much. Plus, I have readers asking for more.

At the same time, I’m fascinated with late bloomers. Those people that seem to find their “voice” and talents in middle age or later. People like me, except a lot more well-known. So I did some research and came up with a list of famous late bloomers in the Arts. From Pulitzer prize winning writers to octogenarian painters and 98 year old sculptors, this list may inspire you to do that creative thing you’ve always wanted to do.

  1. Toni Morrison published her first novel, The Bluest Eye, at age 40 as a single mom.
  2. Dorothy Allison was 42 when Bastard Out of Carolina came out.
  3. George Eliot published her first novel at 40.
  4. Mark Twain wrote Huckleberry Finn at age 49.
  5. Chef, Julia Child, didn’t learn how to cook until her 40s, and didn’t have her television show until her 50s.
  6. Actor, Alan Rickman, who played Snape in the Harry Potter films, got his first film role at 46.
  7. Singer, Susan Boyle, was 46 when she got discovered on Britain’s Got Talent.
  8. Anna Mary Robertson Moses (Grandma Moses) started painting when she was 75 and became a famous American painter.

    famous late bloomers

    Grandma Moses

  9. Filmmaker, Alfred Hitchcock, made Dial M for Murder, Rear Window, To Catch a Thief, The Trouble with Harry, Vertigo, North by Northwest, and Psycho between his 54th and 61st birthdays.
  10. Daniel Defoe wrote Robinson Crusoe at 58.
  11. The works Cezanne created in his mid-60s are valued 15 times higher than those he created as a young man.
  12. Painter, Carmen Herrera, sold her first artwork in 2004 when she was 89 years old, after six decades of private painting. (I did a blog post on her in 2009 called Perseverance. You can find it here.)
  13. At the age of 74, Norman Maclean published his first and only novel, the 1976 best-selling book,  A River Runs Through It.
  14.  Laura Ingalls Wilder became a columnist in her 40s, but did not publish her first novel in the Little House series of children’s books until her 60s.
  15. Frank McCourt didn’t publish his first book Angela’s Ashes (he won the Pulitzer Prize for this book) until he was 66.
  16. Sculptor, Louise Bourgeois, reached her greatest artistic success in her 70s and 80s. She died at 98, having finished another one of the sculptures the week before.
    Louise Bourgeois sculpture
    Louise Bourgeois sculpture

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Wow. That’s some pretty amazing talent, right? Do you have anyone you would add to this list of famous late bloomers? Other thoughts? Comments? If you’re feeling a little shy and don’t want to comment, but enjoy this blog, please considering posting this on the social media platform of your choice and help spread the word.

P.S. Next week: In my periodic newsletter and a blog post (with the same content), I’ll be giving away a limited number of free audio book versions of Grace, Grits and Ghosts: Southern Short Stories and my latest novel Temple Secrets, now available on Audible and Amazon! Whoo-hoo!!

P.P.S. For those of you who don’t know me, I am an acclaimed novelist and a late bloomer. You can check out my books here.

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