Take inspiration from these five fabulous 50+ writers and make the most of our subscriber discount of 20% on an online fiction writing course.

By: Alison Thomas

If you have ever dreamt of writing a best-selling novel but think you have left it too late, take inspiration from these five fabulous writers who hit the literary jackpot after the age of 50.

Bram Stoker – the writer of Dracula had published his first novel, The Snake’s Pass, at the age of 43 but went largely unnoticed until the publication of Dracula seven years later. The book has been dramatised countless times and has been continuously in print for over 100 years. From Bela Lugosi to Christopher Lee to Claes Bang camping it up in the latest BBC version scripted by Mark Gatiss, we can’t get enough of this Vlad boy.  Buy here from bookshop.org

Laura Ingalls Wilder had been a homesteader and a teacher before she started to write about her experiences for the American public, first in a column and then in the form of novels. In her 60s she published the first book in her Little House series. The books followed the adventures of the fictional Ingalls family in their home on the banks of Plum Creek near the small town of Walnut Grove. A staple of American children’s fiction, the books were adapted for TV in the 1970s and are still widely read today.  Buy here

Regarded by many to be the King of crime fiction, Raymond Chandler started writing when he lost his job as an executive in the oil industry in his 40s. At the age of 50 he published The Big Sleep and introduced his wise cracking detective Phillip Marlowe to the world. The novel was filmed in 1946 with Humphrey Bogart in the lead role. A series of best-selling books and scripts followed as Chandler carried on writing, and drinking, until his death in 1959. He once said, ‘A good story cannot be devised; it has to be distilled’. Buy here

Jean Rhys was born in Dominica in 1890, the daughter of a Welsh doctor and a white Creole mother. At the age of 16 she was sent to England to finish her education but left school to become a chorus girl touring the country. She worked as an actress and model and became involved in a series of abusive love affairs but began to write and during the 1920s and 30s produced a number of short stories and novels. She then disappeared into obscurity and was presumed by many to have died until she took the literary world by storm in 1966 with the publication of Wide Sargasso Sea at the age of 76.  The novel recreates the early life of Antoinette Cosway, the first wife of Mr Rochester in Jane Eyre and the original mad woman in the attic. Rhys had begun the book years earlier and drew on her experience of growing up feeling an outsider and a victim to create the character of Antoinette. As she wrote in the novel: ‘There is always another side, always’. Buy here

Richard Adams had a career as a civil servant and only began writing when his daughters persuaded him to set down a story about rabbits he had invented to while away long car trips. He said later that he ‘never thought of myself as a writer until I became one’. He was 52 when Watership Down was published to wide acclaim, spawning not only a beautifully animated film but the tear-jerking theme song Bright Eyes by Art Garfunkel. The book became Penguin’s all-time best seller and Adams went on to write another 19 books including Plague Dogs. Although Adams denied it was an allegory, the themes of the book still resonate today.  Who knew that bunnies could be such bastards? Buy here

If you are inspired to write your own life-changing novel, our friends at Virgin Experience Days are offering High50 subscribers a 20% discount on their Learn to Write Fiction 14 Part Online Course. Over 14-modules you’ll discover how to transform simple ideas into concrete plots, write gripping scenes that are full of suspense and packed with unforgettable characters. You’ll also develop an understanding of the industry and the professional marketing techniques that go into selling books and more. With lifetime membership, and access to the private community, you can learn at your own pace and engage with like-minded aspiring writers, plus you’ll get a CPD certification upon completion of your course.  To take-up the offer, click here:


The High50 subscriber discounts applies to all Virgin Experience Days offers, apart from those listed here.
Our subscribers will save a further 20% on top of any discounted prices
For a full list of terms and conditions click here.
Head to their website at www.virginexperiencedays.co.uk for more ideas and details of how to book.