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The Art of Story Writing : CHAPTER XLVII The Remuneration Received by the Favored Few

by Nathaniel C. Fowler, JR   

CHAPTER XLVII The Remuneration Received by the Favored Few

WITH the distinct understanding that comparatively few writers ever enjoy more than a moderate income from the work of their pens, and as an encouragement to young writers, I would speak of a few authors who have amassed fortunes.

It is said that Sir Walter Scott received nearly a million dollars for his stories, and that Mark Twain's books and writings brought him a fortune of a million and a half.

It is currently thought that Alphonse Daudet received twenty thousand dollars for a single novel.

I have heard that General Lew Wallace's royalties on "Ben-Hur" and "The Prince of India" aggregated nearly four hundred thousand dollars. Mrs. Humphrey Ward's "David Grieve " and "Marcella" may have brought her over seventy-five thousand dollars.

Rumor says that Victor Hugo was paid eighty thousand for "Les Miserables." Hall Caine is reported to have received a check for "The Christian" for fifty thousand dollars; and Dr. A. Conan Doyle is reported to have enjoyed royalties aggregating three hundred and fifty thousand dollars from one of his novels. "Trilby " is said to have brought its author, Du Maurier, several hundred thousand dollars. I have heard that Rider Haggard will not write a story for less than ten thousand dollars.

Booth Tarkington and Richard Harding Davis may receive twenty-five cents a word, and it is quite probable that Rudyard Kipling obtained as much as a dollar a word for some of his writings. Margaret Deland, Mary J. Holmes, Amelia E. Barr, Anna Katherine Green, Kate Douglass Wiggin, Mary E. Wilkins-Freeman, Frances Hodgson Burnett, Ella Wheeler Wilcox, Harriet Prescott Spofford, and a few others, have enjoyed large incomes from their works.

E. Phillips Oppenheim, the mystery-story writer, is supposed to earn twenty-five thousand dollars a year.

Practically all of these authors are fiction writers, but it is obvious that few, or none of them, reached fame, or obtained high prices for their works, at the start.

Age does not appear to make any material difference. Dickens was not twenty-five years old when he wrote "Pickwick Papers," and Richard Watson Gilder, Frank H. Converse, John Howard Payne, George Alfred Townsend, Thomas Harding, Jules Verne, Rider Haggard, J. M. Barrie, Dr. Doyle, Grant Allen, and George Meredith became famous when quite young.

The author of "Don Quixote" did not finish the second part of his work until he was sixty-eight years old, and De Foe wrote "Robinson Crusoe" at the age of fifty-eight. George Eliot, one of the most successful novelists which the world has produced, did not begin her story-writing until she was forty years of age.

Do not lose sight, however, of the fact that these authors were Hamlets on the Stage of Literature, and that few may hope to play leading roles.

There is fame and fortune at the top, some fame and less fortune in the middle, and little, very little of either at the bottom.

But there is no Royal Road to Literature or to anything else worth while.