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New Authors, Fret Not. Most Successful Authors Made Their Mark After 30

LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 07:  Author JK Rowling attends the World Premiere of Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows - Part 2 at
LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 07: Author JK Rowling attends the World Premiere of Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows - Part 2 at Trafalgar Square on July 7, 2011 in London, England. (Photo by Ian Gavan/Getty Images)

Although he published his first book at 27, it wasn't until two decades later, after the release of A Prayer for Owen Meany, that John Irving published his most well-known book. Such an arduous career arc isn't uncommon in the world of literature -- unless you're an anomaly like Douglas Adams, whose Hitchhiker's Guide was published when he was only 28. While the task of penning a novel is typically rewarding intrinsically, there's no guarantee that your early, most-cherished work will be the work that goes down in history.

According to the below infographic created by blinkbox, it's typical for an author's most popular book to be written mid-career. This goes not only for classic writers like Tolstoy and C.S. Lewis, but also contemporary writers like Danielle Steel who focus on mass-market titles. Check it out below to see who was the most and least prolific, who made it big at a young age, and whose popularity took decades to bubble up.

[CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article stated that John Irving didn't garner acclaim until decades into his career as a writer. In fact, his The World According to Garp was an early success. Additionally, we mistakenly referred to the data visualized in the infographic as "breakout books," when in fact writers' most memorable books are charted.]

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