10 Surprising Facts on the Lives of Famous Authors

10 Surprising Facts on the Lives of Famous Authors

There is often an aura of mystery surrounding the lives of famous personalities. This is even truer for authors, who have often led unconventional lives. Whether it’s their unusual writing habits, their personal interests or the new words that they invented, one can agree that they have left behind an interesting legacy. Beginning from the age of Shakespeare to our postmodern writers, we’ve gathered some surprising facts that you can derive pleasure from reading! If you want to get a glimpse of the interesting aspects of the lives of your favourite authors, read on as we take a deep dive into their worlds-

  1. William Shakespeare is undoubtedly the greatest literary mastermind known to humankind. However, did you know that his legacy survives not only in his many plays and sonnets but also in his contributions to the English language? Countless phrases that we use today in our everyday conversations come from Shakespeare, who was a prolific inventor of words. Here are a few-
  • dead as a doornail
  • fair play
  • all of a sudden
  • in a pickle
  • night owl
  • wear your heart on your sleeve
  • star-crossed lovers
  1. We all know that Agatha Christie, our beloved queen of crime, has penned more than 60 detective novels, and classics like Murder on the Orient Express. What you probably didn’t know is that Christie took a bath while surrounded by apple cores! Turns out that she dreamed up these gripping murder mysteries while munching on apples in the bath – sitting there thinking, undisturbed, with the rim of the tub lined with apple cores.
  1. American novelist Truman Capote, renowned for penning literary classics like Breakfast at Tiffany’s and In Cold Blood, had a rather unusual method to get his creative juices flowing. Apparently, he could only write while lying down! This is precisely what his style was, according to his acquaintances- “writing while laying on his back, often with a glass of sherry in one hand and a pencil in another.”
  1. Charles Dickens, who wrote the most famous novels of the Victorian age- David Copperfield, Oliver Twist or Hard Times, only slept facing north. Dickens was notorious for carrying around a navigational compass with him at all times. He made sure to sleep facing north whenever possible. He claimed that this practice helped his brain generate new ideas for his novels. It is also said that Dickens suffered from obsessive-compulsive behaviour. He would comb his hair 20 times a day and would immediately rearrange all the furniture while staying at hotels.
  1. The popular children’s writer Lewis Carroll, who created Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass, is known to have only written in purple ink and continued using purple ink while writing his novels and letters throughout his life. Moreover, it is said that Carroll suffered from a very bad stammer but spoke fluently with children. What’s more, Carroll, who was a mathematics professor at Oxford, was ironically, quite terrible at finances. 
  1. Romantic poet Lord Byron always travelled with his pets. By pets, we mean ten horses, three monkeys, three peacocks, eight dogs, five cats, one crane, one falcon, one eagle, and one crow! Speaking of Romantic poets, Percy Bysshe Shelley is known to be the first public figure who popularised veganism! He wrote pamphlets promoting the benefits of what was at the time considered a radical, predominantly bourgeoisie diet.  
  1. American poetess Emily Dickinson was one of the most reclusive poets in literary history. From the 1850s till her death, Dickinson stayed within her Amherst family home, venturing out tend only to the garden. She refused to attend to family and friends and only spoke with visitors through a crack at the door. She even refused to leave her upstairs bedroom to attend her father’s funeral downstairs. 
  1. Today, you’ll find Potterheads everywhere you look, thanks to J.K Rowling and her imagination. Did you know that she invented the names of the Hogwarts houses while on a flight? She wrote down Gryffindor, Ravenclaw, Hufflepuff and Slytherin on a sick bag, while gazing out the window. There’s more! Rowling first jotted down her initial thoughts and ideas for Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone on a napkin while sitting on a delayed train to London back in 1990.  The most interesting one- Rowling has a dress hanging in her closet with an unpublished manuscript written all over it!
  1. Irish novelist James Joyce, the writer of Ulysses suffered from an intense fear of thunder and lightning, known in medical terms as astrophobia. His biographers believe Joyce developed this fear when his Catholic teachers told him thunder was a sign of God’s wrath. Speaking of irrational fears, Truman Capote could never stay in a hotel room numbered 13.
  1. Beloved children’s author Roald Dahl, who created Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory was a taste-tester for Cadbury’s chocolate. This no doubt inspired his famous creation!  Further, it is said that Dahl was buried with some strange objects. Most notable among them was chocolate! 

We hope you enjoyed reading these unusual facts about your favourite authors. Turns out, the lives they led were as interesting as the novels that they wrote. It’s true what they say, the reality is often stranger than fiction and these writers’ lives are true testaments to the same. After all, your eccentricities can be the real motivation behind your success!

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