J.D. Salinger, William Golding, J.R.R. Tolkien and Ian Fleming are some of the biggest names in the literary world. Salinger caught the attention of an entire generation with The Catcher in the Rye in 1951, while Golding made a name for himself with Lord of the Flies in 1954. Tolkien launched into a life of fame with the release of The Hobbit in 1937, and Fleming introduced the world's most famous spy in 1953 when he published Casino Royale. While the stories are vastly different from one another, they do have one thing in common - they are all debut novels and arguably their authorís best known work.
Not all first novels are knockouts. Best selling author Philip Pullman's debut work is a novel called The Haunted Storm, published in 1972. He wrote it when he was only 25, and though it won the English Library’s Young Writer’s Award he declines to speak about it due to an odd case of writerís remorse. At Pullman’s request, the title has never been re-published.
Many thought Margaret Mitchell was a one-hit-wonder, but in fact, Gone with the Wind was not her first or only novel. She wrote Lost Laysen in 1916, 10 years before the release of her piŤce de rťsistance. The manuscript was hidden away for decades, and Lost Laysen was not published until the 1990s. Jack Kerouac published The Town and the City in 1950, while many of his earlier works were tucked away. The Sea is My Brother is his first written novel, penned in 1942 and published in 2011.
Most often, a debut novel is released quietly without even the slightest fanfare. There was a time when the names Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, George Orwell and William Faulkner meant very little. It took them each a book or two to earn their well-deserved literary fame and by then their first novels were things of the past. Our selection of debut novels provides a glimpse into the creative minds of literary legends, before they were legends at all.