1. The original title of Fahrenheit 451 was The Fireman.
Ray Bradbury and his publishers thought The Fireman was a boring title, so they called a local fire station and asked what temperature paper burned at. The firemen put Bradbury on hold while they burned a book, then reported back the temperature, and the rest is history.
2. And Bradbury also wrote the 1956 screenplay for Moby Dick.
Bradbury was a renaissance writer!
3. Don Quixote is the best-selling novel of all time, with over 500 million copies sold.
That’s the best-selling novel. But if we’re talking about the best-selling book of all time, then that’s The Bible.
4. Edgar Allan Poe originally wanted a parrot to repeat the word “nevermore.”
Wisely, Poe decided that a parrot didn’t fit the melancholy tone that his poem was going for, and he settled on a raven.
5. The first publisher willing to print copies of Lolita was Olympia Press.
Vladimir Nabokov’s novel was so controversial that only one press was willing to publish his book in 1955. Putnam in the United States changed its mind in 1958, after the novel became a hit.
6. Charles Dickens believed in the supernatural, and he belonged to something called The Ghost Club.
7. The protagonist in C.S. Lewis’ science fiction trilogy was modeled after his friend and fellow author J.R.R. Tolkien.
Aside from serving as a character in C.S. Lewis’ series, he also went on to write The Hobbit.
8. John Steinbeck’s original manuscript for Of Mice and Men was eaten by a dog.
Steinbeck’s puppy, Toby, was left alone one evening and effectively ate some really important homework. Steinbeck wrote of the incident to his agent and said, “I was pretty mad, but the poor little fellow may have been acting critically.”
9. Anna Karenina is over 800 pages long, but it was originally published in serialized form.
The Russian Messenger published serialized excerpts from 1873 to 1877. But since Leo Tolstoy’s political views clashed with that of the editor’s, the first full issue of the novel was as a book.
10. Gabriel García Márquez refuses to allow One Hundred Years of Solitude to be made into a film.
It’s odd because most of his works have been made into films. Marquez stated that the reason is, “They would cast someone like Robert Redford and most of us do not have relatives who look like Robert Redford.”
11. To Kill a Mockingbird is Harper Lee’s only novel, even though it won a Pulitzer Prize and spent 88 weeks on the best seller list.
She currently lives in Monroeville, Alabama, and is allegedly working on her memoirs.
12. The first edition of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was published in 1964 and was also pretty racist.
For example, in the first edition, the Oompa-Loompas were described as black pygmies from “the very deepest and darkest part of the African jungle where no white man had gone before.” Also important of note is that Charlie was originally described by Dahl as “a small negro boy.”
13. Catch-22 took eight years to complete.
The writing process started in 1953 when Joseph Heller thought of the first few lines. It then took him a week to send the first chapter to his agent. After Heller finished a third of the book, his agent started to solicit publishers, and Simon and Schuster bought it. It then took eight years for Heller to deliver the full manuscript.
14. The Catcher in the Rye is J.D. Salinger’s only published novel, and it forced him into hiding.
Two years after the book was published in 1951, Salinger became a recluse in Cornish, New Hampshire. After giving a report to a local newspaper there, it ran as a major scoop, and Salinger was so enraged that he rarely spoke publicly again.
15. Ernest Hemingway hated the original cover of Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby.
Even though the cover is iconic, when Fitzgerald lent a copy of the book to Hemingway, he immediately disliked it. Fitzgerald assured him that if he could just start reading the book, he’d understand it more clearly.
16. The manuscript for A Moveable Feast was stored in the basement of the Ritz Hotel in Paris.
In 1928, Ernest Hemingway stored two trunks that contained notebooks from the years he lived in Paris. Then in 1956, Hemingway retrieved the trunks and got to work transcribing them into his memoirs. The final product was published three years after Hemingway’s death.
17. The band U2 borrowed a chapter title in Lord of the Flies to name one of their songs.
Chapter 7 of Lord of the Flies is titled “Shadows and Tall Trees,” which U2 used as the final track on their debut album, Boy.
18. Pride and Prejudice was originally titled First Impressions.
But when the novel was initially rejected by publishers, Jane Austen made significant rewrites, including a title change. The revisions were made between 1811 and 1812.
19. The Monster in Frankenstein has no name, but Mary Shelley once referred to him as “Adam.”
Many people mistakenly think that the Monster is named Frankenstein, when in fact he’s never given a name in the novel. But during a reading of the book, Shelley referred to the Monster as “Adam,” a nod to the Garden of Eden.
20. The original title for Where the Wild Things Are was Where the Wild Horses Are, and it would’ve featured horses.
The reason for the change was that Maurice Sendak couldn’t draw horses. So, when his editor asked what he could draw, his reply was “things.” Things are exactly what ended up in the book.