Hard Times

Goodbye, goodbye good friends, goodbye – Bear In the Big Blue House.

Oh springtime! How bitter sweet you are. The sun occasionally visits, the air is fresh and the lectures softly begin to dwindle like a slow flame. Exams are approaching and it’s a very easy time to get stressed – but alas do not fear! Yes, schoolwork is important but it is not everything. This week we are looking at 7 famous authors who prove that intellect is quantifiable in more ways than one!

1. Mark Twain

At the age of 12, Twain was forced to drop out of school due to the death of his father. He went to work with his older brother, Orion, as a printer’s apprentice. He earned no money for this job, his only compensation being board and clothing. It was here that Twain began to write. (Oh Twain, you defiant human you!)

2.George Bernard Shaw

GBS was an autodidact. At age 14, he dropped out of school finding little value in formal education. “Schools and schoolmasters” he once said, “ are not popular as places of education and teachers, but rather prisons and turnkeys in which children are kept to prevent them disturbing and chaperoning their parents”. Shaw spent hours in the Nationals Gallery Of Dublin reading about art and history and literature. It was during this period that Shaw began to write.

3. H.G Wells

This hip n’ cool science fiction author was pulled out of school when his father, a professional cricket player, fractured his thigh. (Apparently) cricket players earned a lot of money so the significant loss of income forced Wells to leave school at age 11. Wells took on an apprenticeship at the Southsea Drapery Emporium, (the equivalent of a minimum wage part-time job nowadays), which he hated with a burning passion (hashtag relatable). However, it was this grim apprenticeship that later inspired the novels The Wheels of Chance and Kipps.

4. William Faulkner

Faulkner was already writing quite profusely as a teenager, so he really didn’t care much for school. He dropped out at 15 to work in his Grandfather’s bank. At 22, without any formal diploma, he enrolled in Ole Miss, where his father worked (*cough* not that that had aaaaaanything to do with it). The rebel dropped out again after three semesters. Oh well, he didn’t do too badly for himself in the end, did he?

5. Charles Dickens

Dickens enjoyed a fancy pants private education up until the age of 12. His father was then thrown into a debtors’ prison and everything changed. Little Charles was forced to work at a boot blacking warehouse (for all your boot blacking needs). The work was grossly underpaid and very gruesome, these were very Hard Times indeed (wink wink, nudge nudge). Eventually, Dickens senior inherited a sum of money allowing him to get out of prison. Dickens went back to school, but his experiences in the factory stayed with him and carried through in to much of his work.

What do all of these wonderful authors have in common? Apart from dropping out of school for one reason or another, they all used their experiences to inspire their art. Try and keep this in mind on exam day. Study is an important thing, but it’s not the only thing, and it’s certainly not the end of the world. The moral of the story is, hard time builds character and things always work out in some way (it’s simple science, mom!).