for writers and readers….

DID YOU KNOW about these famous rejections?

Towards the end of a course I often remind students that there are people who  go to bed every night knowing that they once held the manuscript of Harry Potter in their hands and said…
Here’s a few more famous rejections to warm the heart of any writer or would-be writer.

 Lorna Doone by Richard Blackmore
Turned down 18 times before being published in 1889.

Cover of an illustrated 1893 edition of Lorna ...

Cover of an illustrated 1893 edition of Lorna Doone (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Lord of the Flies by William Golding
was rejected by 20 publishers.

Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
Rejected by 38 publishers before it eventually appeared in print, this impeccably researched Civil War novel was made into the highest grossing Hollywood film of all time (the figures have been adjusted for inflation apparently).

Dune by Frank Herbert
The epic science-fiction story was rejected by 23 publishers

 Carrie by Stephen King
King received 30 rejections for his first novel about a tormented teenager with telekinetic powers. Enough was enough he must have thought because he threw it away – his wife found it and persuaded him to keep on trying.

8 comments on “DID YOU KNOW about these famous rejections?

  1. Vikki (The View Outside)
    December 4, 2012

    Blooming Hell!!!!!

    There’s hope for us all then 😉


  2. bridget whelan
    December 4, 2012

    My point exactly!!!!

  3. SingleMotherAhoy
    March 1, 2015

    I read that Theodore Geisel was rejected between 20 and 43 times (depending on which of his stories one heard) with his first book. Imagine if he’d given up, and the world would never have known The Cat In The Hat or Green Eggs and Ham!

    • bridget whelan
      March 1, 2015

      Agreed, a great loss, but I can see how risky the books would appear in a pre-cat world. That’s the trouble with walking to a different beat and why same old same old is popular with publishers/ investors (until the bottom falls out of the market).

  4. catdownunder
    November 12, 2016

    I think James Joyce’s Dubliners was rejected 22 times!

    • bridget whelan
      November 12, 2016

      Really? I knew he had a hard job selling The Dead to anyone. When I was doing my MA the lecturer apologised for giving it to us to study as it was the most short story ever written and might put us off…

  5. Sarah Waldock
    January 2, 2022

    … though perhaps the wittiest rejection ever was to Isaac Asimov, from his editor in a magazine; the rejection note was the formula for butyl macaptan.
    That’s the stuff that makes skunks smell.
    and as Asimov was a biochemist his editor would know he would read loud and clear ‘it stinks’
    I also read that some brave soul typed out all of ‘Pride and Prejudice’ and sent it to a dozen publishers. Eleven of them rejected it with more or less contempt, and the twelfth mentioned that copying was not a sincere form of flattery.

    • Bridget Whelan
      January 2, 2022

      These are wonderful stories and I want them to be true — especially the Asimov one

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