My Older Legacy Literary Blog

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Authors and Their Day Jobs or First Jobs

A lot of writers, poets and composers have or had to work day jobs to survive and keep body and soul together.  

Tennessee Williams (b. 1911 - d. 1983) was reportedly a very poorly performing waiter at a restaurant in the French Quarter of New Orleans while he wrote “A Streetcar named Desire” and other plays. Later, when he was a real sensation as a playwright and Williams was asked to do a curtain call in London, John Gielgud tried to keep him offstage because he said he looked like a hick waiter in his tuxedo..

Albert Camus (b. 1913 - d. 1960)sold auto parts while he wrote the earlier part of his body of Existential philosophy.  .

George Gershwin (b. 1898 - d. 1937)was a cashier for six months at a restaurant (or drugstore, I’m not sure).

Jim Thompson (b. 1906 d. 1977) had to work in aircraft plants in California (which was not the greatest line of work back then)..

Sherwood Anderson (b. 1876 - d. 1941) owned a couple of paint stores early in his career before he had his two nervous breakdowns..

William Faulkner (b. 1897 - d. 1962) was postmaster on campus at Ole Miss and got fired because whenever postcards would come in for customers he would elaborate on the handwritten cards by adding his own funny lines, like “By the way, I am pregnant, etc…” He worked nights at a power plant in Mississippi and on a large overturned bucket he wrote the Pulitzer prize-winning “As I Lay Dying.”.

EE Cummings (b. 1894 - d. 1962) graduated from Harvard and had one job his entire life, as a mail clerk, and that job lasted exactly one day.  The rest of his life he ranted about having that job.

Hart Crane (b. 1899 - d. 1932), now considered a great national poet, had a millionaire father who invented the ”lifesaver” candy, so Crane never had to work.  His father disapproved of him being gay though, and a poet as well.  Crane finally got hired as a travelling companion for a rich person on a trip to California, where Crane later wrote about attending risqué Hollywood parties of half-dressed Hollywood actresses bobbing for apples, etc. Howard Lovecraft (b. 1890 - d. 1937) was friends with Crane’s roommate Samuel Loveman, who corresponded with Ambrose Bierce (b. 1842 - d. 1914?).  Lovecraft always mentioned in his letters how drunk Crane always was, and that he would come to no good end, and Crane mentioned in his letters about this ”windpiping” Lovecraft who forced Loveman on these long architectural walks throughout New York City.
After a troubled Crane committed suicide by jumping ship in Perdido Bay, when Crane was pretty reknowned as a poet, Crane’s mother and Lovecraft and many others held a party in the memory of Hart Crane.

Russian Composer Nickolai Rimsky-Korsakov (b. 1844 - d. 1908) was in the merchant marines and also a chemist.  

Charles Ives (b. 1874 - d. 1954), a very important 20th century composer, was big in the Insurance business..

Rimbaud (b. 1854 - d. 1891)was a brilliant poet and one day just quit and made a fortune in business..

T.S. Eliot (b. 1888 - d. 1965) was a banker in England but was not just a little clerk downstairs as Huxley often said, but was a rather important, high level person in the Bank..

Cole Porter (b. 1891 - d. 1964) was supposed to become a lawyer but the best thing he did at Yale was compose a lot of songs for their Glee Club.

Hoagy Carmichael (b. 1899 - d. 1981) was supposed to be a lawyer as well..

Norman Mailer (b. 1923 - d. 2007) studied Engineering Science at Harvard but did not take up that profession.


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