Question: Which classic novel opens with “Call me Ishmael”?
Answer: Moby Dick! Written by Herman Melville.
It is a tragedy that a number of talented authors were only appreciated after their deaths, despite them authoring classics that are now known worldwide.
Once such author is Herman Melville. Considered one of the great American classics, his whaling tale Moby Dick was originally a flop and it was only thirty years after his death in 1891 that his book was rediscovered. It is now read by school children all over the United States. Herman Melville had to take employment as a customs inspector for 20 years due to not making a living as writer!
The Bronte sisters were similarly unappreciated during their lifetimes. Charlotte Bronte penned the now famous classic Jane Eyre (published in 1847) and was originally paid £100 for it – a good sum in those days! But with it now being on school reading lists and read by people around the world she would have been within the financial ranks of J K Rowling. A first edition copy of Jane Eyre was put up for auction a few years ago with an estimate of between 30,000 and 50,000 pounds.
The renowned poet Edgar Allan Poe become a household name after publication of his poem The Raven but he was only paid 9 dollars for it. He struggled throughout his lifetime to make a financial success out of his writing. The Raven has since been published in numerous anthologies and has inspired other literary works.
A piece of literature is truly a classic if it can be written over a hundred years ago and still be read generation after generation. I only wish that authors such as the Bronte sisters could know the influence their writing has had.
For further reading, you may find the Education Quizzes Knowledge Bank of interest. It’s packed full of articles which aim to answer the questions asked by parents. Whether it’s the details of the National Curriculum or tips on child discipline, we have a library of knowledge at your fingertips! Well worth a look, for any parent.
Also, with literature in mind, at Education Quizzes we have a special set of online quizzes for children to test their own knowledge on authors past and present!