Query for books by author's age?
May 17, 2011 3:40 PM   Subscribe

How can I find books written by authors that are 80 years old or older?

My grandmother is looking for novels (fiction) published by authors who were over 80 when they wrote the book. She has a hunch that their perpective on things will make their works enjoyable for her to read and relate to.

I always tell her you can find anything on the Internet, but this one has me stumped. Is there some way to search with this criterion? In the mean time she's going to see if any of the local librarians have this knowledge in their well-indexed brains :)
posted by nnevvinn to Writing & Language (20 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Have you searched using the word "octogenarian"? I've come up with a few leads. If you search simply for "octogenarians" on amazon, you should get some relevant results. I also came across an article about Elmore Leonard. He has written a few books during his eighth decade of life.

Also, do they have to be in their 80s? Would seventies be acceptable?
posted by gauchodaspampas at 3:51 PM on May 17, 2011 [1 favorite]

Check this out: Things Other People Accomplished When They Were Your Age

For example, entering age 82 returns results including these:
The renowned writer and thinker Johann Wolfgang von Goethe finished writing Faust, with which he had begun experimenting more than 60 years earlier.

Winston Churchill wrote A History of the English-Speaking Peoples.

Leo Tolstoy wrote I Cannot Be Silent.
Hat tip to illenion.
posted by Perplexity at 3:51 PM on May 17, 2011

It's fudging a little bit, but Penelope Fitzgerald was 79 when The Blue Flower was published.
posted by craichead at 4:28 PM on May 17, 2011

I love reading svensto who shares many memories on her blog which she was prompted to begin by her author/blogger granddaughter who wrote/writes The Daily Coyote
posted by Anitanola at 4:28 PM on May 17, 2011

James Michener turned 80 in 1987, and wrote a lot of books, both fiction and non-fiction, after that.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 4:34 PM on May 17, 2011

Response by poster: Awesome, there are all very helpful! I knew you all would have good ideas.
posted by nnevvinn at 4:38 PM on May 17, 2011

The Gale Literary Index lets you search by author's birth year or death year, by nationality. Sadly it doesn't look like it lets you narrow the works by age at publication... There may be a similar type of author search index out there, but I don't know. Gah, that's not really an answer, but I'm hoping this will trigger someone's memory of other databases.
posted by wowbobwow at 4:38 PM on May 17, 2011

Response by poster: *These are all very helpful :)
posted by nnevvinn at 4:38 PM on May 17, 2011

Claire Hancock, published in 2009, was written by first-time author Eve Rizzo at the age of 81 -- it's a novel based on her own life. My wife read it and heartily recommends it.
posted by BurntHombre at 4:45 PM on May 17, 2011

Will she do mysteries? P.D. James turned 80 in 2000, and she's published four books since then.
posted by craichead at 4:53 PM on May 17, 2011

Sorry! Thought of another one. Mary Wesley published her last three novels after she turned 80.
posted by craichead at 5:03 PM on May 17, 2011

John Sanford published nine books after he turned 80.
posted by hydrophonic at 5:15 PM on May 17, 2011

Nobel Prize-winning author José Saramago, who died last year at the age of 87, published six novels in his eighties alone (plus one published posthumously).
posted by hot soup girl at 7:02 PM on May 17, 2011

How about Helen Hooven Santmyer? She was 88 when And Ladies of the Club was published.
posted by Allee Katze at 7:44 PM on May 17, 2011

Also a fudge, but The Gurnsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society was written by Mary Ann Shaeffer when she was 74.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 10:29 PM on May 17, 2011

Response by poster: You all rock! I'm compiling all of these into a list for her. She will be so pleased!
posted by nnevvinn at 11:19 PM on May 17, 2011

How about Henry Roth's Mercy of a Rude Stream. Has the added benefit that you can reach back and read the author's Call it Sleep, written in the same milieux as a much younger man.
posted by sagwalla at 2:07 AM on May 18, 2011

William Maxwell published some of his stories after he was 80. He also published the novella "So Long, See You Tomorrow" when he was "only" 72, but it is a wonderful book and I think it would fit in this theme. It's the story of a childhood - somewhat of a fictionalized memoir - but told by an elderly narrator who often reflects on how his childhood influenced the rest of his life and how reliable - or unreliable - his memories are.
posted by Mr.Know-it-some at 6:43 AM on May 18, 2011

John le Carre is almost 80, and still writing incredible books.
posted by LauraJ at 12:00 PM on May 18, 2011 [1 favorite]

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