Before They Were Famous!

Can you tell these literary aficionados from their childhood pics? Let us know if you think fame has made them even more quaffed, or if they’re a shadow of their former selves.


  1. I am the inventor of LongPen who has taught at the University of British Columbia. A frequent visitor to Oxford, I delivered the Clarendon Lectures in 1991. It took a publisher two years to consider my first manuscript. I also enjoy a good bit of cosplay.

2. No one has given us more nightmares, but this world famous author suffers from triskaidekaphobia—fear of the number 13. I own three radio stations in my home state of Maine. I once told fellow author Neil Gaiman, ‘If I had the chance to live my life all over again I wouldn’t change a thing. Apart from appearing in an American Express advert.’

3. When I was 16, I started a magazine called Metro with my mates. I keep bees and used to have a talking cat. My favourite Filipino mythological character is the manananggal. I believe books have genders and my favourite cheese is Wensleydale.

4. My mother didn’t want me to learn how to read, but finally let me go to a finishing school in Paris when I was 15. My first novel was written on a dare and my most famous character is based on a real person. I wrote six romance novels under the pen name Mary Westmacott. I’m a big fan of surfing.

5. I wrote four collections of poetry under the pseudonym of Clive Hamilton. When I was four, sadly my dog ‘Jacksie’ was run over with a car. After that, I would only respond to ‘Jacksie’—later Jack. I never learned to type and always used pens. I died on the same day as Kennedy’s assassination.

6. I am a comic book fanatic—particularly Marvel! I avoided the Vietnam War draft as a conscientious objector. I worked on numerous TV shows including Beauty and the Beast, The Twilight Zone, and The Outer Limits. I own a library tower and an indie cinema in New Mexico. My most famous collection would not exist without chess.


7. I wrote my first story at the age of six and own a Jane Austen first edition. My first marriage felk apart within a year when my Portuguese journalist partner forced me out of my apartment at five in the morning. My father sold a collection of my rare signed first editions in 2003 when I refused to settle his £100K business debt. When I was a secretary, I had a habit of writing my stories at work which led to me being fired. My clinical depression inspired the creation of some of the villains in my novels.


8. I was born in Norwich, but had to move to Australia when my mother remarried. My pilot father died in a plane crash when I was seven. Paradise Lost inspired me to write one of my famous novels. I resigned as patron from a literary festival over lack of pay for authors.

9. Born Chloe Anthony Wofford, I changed my name because people found Chloe hard to pronounce. Upon entering the first grade, I was the only child who could read. My college thesis discussed suicides of famous authors. I used to be an editor at Random House and my home caught fire the year I won the Noble Prize.

10. I published my first work at nine and at 12 my IQ was recorded at 160. I worked my way through Smith College even though she had been accepted to Wellesley for free. I worked on a farm doing manual labour and later reflected on this in my work. My novel was rejected by American publishers and was later published under the pseudonym Victoria Lucas.

Let us know how many you got!

  1. Margaret Atwood; 2. Stephen King; 3. Neil Gaiman; 4. Agatha Christie; 5. C. S. Lewis; 6. George R. R. Martin; 7. J. K. Rowling; 8. Philip Pullman; 9. Toni Morrison; 10. Sylvia Plath
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