As Hollywood scours the literary world for the next big screen adaptation with franchise potential, studios may want to start paying attention to another pool of authors to borrow from. We recently spotted an article in the New York Times about young writers — many scribes under the age of 18 — that have been seeking untraditional ways to share their written word with the world. It seems that self-publishing companies — outlets already increasingly popular with adult authors — are inspiring more children and teens to sell their tomes online, allowing them to “bypass the traditional gatekeeping system for determining who can call himself a ‘published author.’” Some writers are scoffing at the idea. Even Cowgirls Get the Blues’ Tom Robbins told the Times, “There are no prodigies in literature. Literature requires experience, in a way that mathematics and music do not.” We wanted to see if he was right, and decided to look back in history at several child and teen authors past the break. If there’s a young author you appreciate that we didn’t include, let us know below.
Most likely the first author that came to mind when you saw our article was Anne Frank. She never lived to see her story achieve international fame, however. The Dutch-written diary Frank kept about her everyday experiences while hiding with her family for two years during the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands was published posthumously. She started recording her experiences shortly after her 13th birthday. Eventually Frank and her family were discovered and sent to the concentration camps in Germany where the young writer died from typhus in 1945. The only survivor was Frank’s father who returned to Amsterdam after the war and discovered her diaries had been saved. The thoughtful, wise, and moving commentary on war and human life — something Eleanor Roosevelt praised Frank’s book for — was published in 1947 and eventually translated to English for a 1952 publication.