Barbara Taylor Bradford received a £17 million advance from Harper Collins in 1992 for her next three novels
Stephen King was offered an advance of £26 million for a three-book deal in 1989
Tom Clancy received $75 million for a two-book deal with Penguin
Edgar Allan Poe was offered $14 for Eureka towards the end of his life, with the proviso that if the book didn’t earn that amount, he had to make up the difference to the publisher. In 1846 he offered to sell the copyright of a collection of his short stories for as little as $50. The offer was rejected.
Thomas Wolfe received only $500 for his massive work Look Homeward, Angel, which works out at about 1 of your English pennies for every 100 words.
Jack London got a $2,000 flat fee for The Call of the Wild in 1903. The book sold so well that he lost upwards of $100,000 by giving up the royalties.
After his death Gerard Manly Hopkins’ final poems were burned on the instructions of his religious order
Copies of John Milton’s books were burned publicly in 1660 because he was critical of Charles II. He went on, of course, to write Paradise Lost, but after he died his widow sold the copyright of it for £8.
When Moliere was in the process of translating Lucretius’s On the Nature of Things, one of his servants casually picked up some of the pages and used them as curl papers for Moliere’s wig. So enraged was Moliere that he threw the rest of the manuscript into the fire. Continue reading →
Found- a rare anonymous work by Laughton Osborn, an almost completely forgotten writer and one time friend of Poe - A Handbook of Young Artists and Amateurs in Oil Painting (Wiley and Putnam New York 1845.) The author is given as 'An American Artist' and the book demonstrates a very thorough technical knowledge of the subject, particularly the making and mixing of colours. Very much a writer manqué, his entry in the American Dictionary of Biography ends on this pathetic note: 'His plays were obviously for the library, and not for the footlights, and a search of dramatic records fails disclose any mention of their production in New York or elsewhere.' An online search some 80 years later shows no mention of any performances or reviews of his plays but brings up one modern critic (David S Reynolds) writing that his plays '…have been deservedly ignored because they sheepishly attempt to duplicate both the the form and content of Shakespeare's plays.' As a friend (and correspondent) of the 'divine Edgar', surely the greatest of all American writers, he may be worthy of greater note. Poe writes about him fulsomely in The Literati of New York (1850) which is available at Wikisource. The shorter Allibone has this: 'Novelist. Author Confessions of a Poet, Sixty Years of the Life of Jeremy Levis,etc. A writer of some power, whose works have been criticised as of questionable morality.'
Here is his entry in the American Dictionary of Biography: