How Old Will You Be When You Publish Your Great American Novel?

Society places a bizarre amount of weight on when a writer or artist creates their first truly successful work—blame our obsession with youth or tiger moms or whatever. Still, it's interesting to see if there's a correlation between your age and the best work of your career there's—this diagram helps us do just that.

Created by the Italian data visualization firm Accurat, this chart looks complicated but is actually an elegant way to display so much information: Each circle represents an author's lifespan, which runs clockwise. The first number is their age when they published their first novel (represented in blue). The next number is their age when they published their first "masterpiece," as defined by Modern Library. The next numbers represent other qualifying books they may have written.

So, for example, Philip Roth was 26 when he published Goodbye, Columbus. Then there are authors who wrote for decades without critics taking serious notice—Henry James was 32 when he published is first novel, but he had to wait until he was 59 for one of his books to be considered a masterpiece.

Of course, the data is skewed by how you define "masterpiece." In this case, it's a 100-year-old publishing house doing the defining—but plenty will take issue with its choices. Either way, it's somehow heartening to know that there isn't really a "golden age" for success—rather, it's a long, dark slog through uncertainty. Happy Monday, guys! [Accurat]

How Old Will You Be When You Publish Your Great American Novel?