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Robert McCrum: It's never too late to start writing

28th June 2010

It is never too late for people to pick up a pen and make their mark as a talented author, if writer Robert McCrum is to be believed.

In his column in the Observer, the Globish author cited the example of several literary heroes who were middle-aged before their true talents were recognised by their readers.

McCrum pointed out that poet Walt Whitman showed few signs of his creativity, bar writing a 'temperance' novel, until he self-published his first collection at the age of 36.

In addition, Fyodor Dostoevsky's masterpieces Crime and Punishment and The Brothers Karamazov were not written until he reached his mid-40s, while Daniel Defoe was almost 60 when Robinson Crusoe was completed.

'The onset of middle age, or the approach of oblivion, is perhaps as sharp a spur to literary effort as the intoxicating self-belief of youth,' McCrum speculated.

Earlier this month, McCrum used his Observer blog to examine the issue of authors wanting to avoid their reading public, claiming that artists tend to have a fear of explaining their works to admirers.

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