Have you ever written a Facebook status or a composed an important email, pressed send and then noticed a mistake in the text? It’s mortifying. This feeling is even worse when you call yourself a writer and people expect all your written work to be of top quality. Like Frankenstein rejecting his monster after its birth, these writer choose to distance themselves from their creations… or try to. Here are five authors who grew to hate their own creations.
1) Sir Arthur Conan Doyle – Sherlock Holmes
Sherlock Holmes is arguably the world’s most famous detective. There have been countless adaptations and retelling of his adventures from BBC’s Sherlock to some of my favourite books Anthony Horrowit’s The House of Silk and Moriarty. The first series of Sherlock Holmes stories were set between the years 1887 and 1891. Although the public loved Sherlock’s adventures the author began to lose interest in the character. In a letter to his Mother, Doyle explained:
I think of slaying Holmes, … and winding him up for good and all. He takes my mind from better things.
– Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
After being dissuaded by his Mother, Doyle demanded his publishers pay him a ludicrous amount for the Holmes stories, hoping they would refuse. Unfortunately the publishers accepted his offer. Having grown tired of writing Sherlock stories for four years Doyle killed Holmes in The Final Problem by having him fall over the Reichenbach Falls, a German Waterfall, with his arch nemesis Moriarty.
Readers were devastated and wrote to Doyle demanding Sherlock’s return. After eight years Doyle finally gave in to the public’s pressure and another Sherlock Holmes story was written. The Hounds of the Baskervilles was the first Sherlock Holmes novel and was set before the Detective’s death. Although the novel was well received by fans and critics it wasn’t enough to satisfy the public’s longing for the detective’s return and in the following year Sherlock was resurrected in the story The Adventure of the Empty House. The publication of this story lead to the infamous quote:
If in 100 years I am only known as the man who invented Sherlock Holmes then I will have considered my life a failure.
-Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Unfortunately for Doyle the only other notable literacy work he created was The Lost World, in which explorers discover dinosaurs living in a hidden land in South America. Although this novel made a big impact in Science Fiction community, to the general public Doyle will forever be remembered as the man who created Sherlock Holmes.
2) Dame Agatha Christie – Hercule Poriot
Hercule Poriot is my second favourite detective after Sherlock Holmes. First appearing in The Mysterious Affair at Styles in 1920 Poirot became a favourite character of Christie’s fan base. He had many interesting quirks, his waddle, his handlebar moustache, his arrogance in his own abilities and the referencing of his little grey cells. Poirot was expertly brought to life by David Suchet for 25 years in many TV adaptations and will be portrayed by Kenneth Branagh in the 2017 film Murder on the Orient Express.
Poirot was inspired by Belgian refugees Christie encountered in Torquay during the Second World War. Later in her life Christie wished she had introduced Poirot to the readers at a younger age so he could develop, the Poirot that first appeared on the page was already fully formed. In her later writing career Christie grew to detest the character. Christie kept a writing journal (something all writers should consider) and described Poirot as a “Detestable, bombastic, tiresome egocentric little creep”. According to some reports Christie would hand a Mrs Marple manuscript to her publishers only to be told to replace Mrs Marple with Poirot. Unlike Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Christie didn’t kill off her main character. She is reported to have described herself as an entertainer and she understood how much the public loved Poirot. Poirot continued to solve mysteries until his death in Curtin: Poirot’s final case. Interestingly his final appearance in Curtin, published in 1970’s, was written in the 1940’s. Christie thought that her readers deserved a satisfying conclusion to her detective’s stories and planned her hero’s deaths in advance. Mrs Marple’s final adventure, Sleeping Death was written at the same time as Curtin. Poirot’s death made the front page in the New York Times.
“Hercule Poirot Is Dead; Famed Belgian Detective; Hercule Poirot, the Detective, Dies”.
“Hercule Poirot, a Belgian detective who became internationally famous, has died in England. His age was unknown. Regarding his health, the reporter Thomas Lask said: “The news of his death, given by Dame Agatha, was not unexpected. Word that he was near death reached here last May.”
-The New York Times
Curtin was the final story Christie saw published, she passed away shortly afterwards. Sleeping Death was published posthumously.
3) A. A. Milne – Winnie the Pooh
I’ve spoken about the creation of Winnie the Pooh before (which you can read here) and how Christopher Robin grew up to hate the link to his fictional counterpart. The dislike was also shared by his Father.
A.A. Milne was already a successful writer before publishing Winnie the Pooh. He had seven novels, five nonfiction books and thirty four plays published as well as working as an assistant editor at the satire magazine Punch and being an editor at the Granta magazine. Milne had set himself a goal, a goal that I share. Be free to write whatever you want.
When Winnie the Pooh became a roaring success (no pun intended) Milne’s later work was always compared to Winnie. His readership, disappointed he was not producing Winnie the Pooh stories, dwindled.
His son, Christopher Robin, embraced his fame as a child, he sang songs from the Pooh stories and read out poetry, he assisted in an audio recording and posed for photographs with his toys that represented the characters. When Christopher left for boarding school his roomates teased him and his torment continued into his university years. For both Father and Son the following quote has become ironic.
“In that enchanted place on the top of the Forest, a little boy and his Bear will always be playing.”
-The House at Pooh Corner
4) Ian Fleming- The Spy Who Loved Me
James Bond is known for his tuxedoes, fast cars, the beautiful ladies he beds and his dangerous missions to exotic countries. He is known more for his film franchise rather than his novels. James Bond was created by Ian Fleming who used himself, and several people he worked with in the Royal Navy during the Second World War, as inspiration for the super spy. The name James Bond came from the author of a book called Birds of the West Indies. Fleming thought the name sounded dull and boring, the perfect name for an undercover agent.
The main criticism of James Bond is his toxic masculinity. He objectifies woman, takes lives with little hesitation and leaves destruction wherever he goes. This is more a problem in the James Bond films than the novels but it was a problem Fleming wanted to address.
“I had become increasingly surprised to find my thrillers, which were designed for an adult audience, being read in schools, and that young people were making a hero out of James Bond … So it crossed my mind to write a cautionary tale about Bond, to put the record straight in the minds particularly of younger readers … the experiment has obviously gone very much awry”
Fleming wrote the novel, The Spy Who Loved Me, from a woman’s point of view with James Bond only appearing two thirds of the way into the story. Vivienne Michel is tricked into working in a motel run by criminals. Before the criminals murder Vivienne James Bond appears and heroically intervenes. After a gunfight, during which the motel is burnt down, Bond drives Vivienne to safety. When Vivienne wakes up the next morning she discovers Bond has abandoned her but left a message advising her to tell the police what happened and warning her to stay away from the world of espionage. When the police arrive they repeat Bond’s message but warn Vivienne that all men are dangerous in the world of spies, including James Bond himself. Regardless Vivienne still fantasises of the mysterious spy.
Unfortunately the novel was met with poor reviews and was heavily critised. Vivienne Michel was meant to be an empowered female character yet she was easily manipulated by the criminals and needed James Bond to rescue her. The moral of the book, that James Bond is a dangerous man who should not be idolised or hero worshipped was lost as Vivienne admired and lusted after her saviour. Fleming, embarrassed by his project, asked for the book to be pulled. The only aspects of the novel taken into the film The Spy Who Loved Me was the title and one of the henchmen that eventually became the character Jaws. The Spy Who Loved Me film was given its own novelization written by Christopher Wood. After Fleming’s death his version of The Spy Who Loved Me was republished.
5) Alan Moore – All DC characters
Although Alan Moore’s personal views and belief system has attracted criticism from the general public it can’t be denied that he a terrific comic book writer. It could be argued that Moore has had a bigger impact on the medium than any other comic book writer. His works include but are by no means limited to V for Vendetta, The Watchmen, Batman: The Killing Joke and Superman: Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?
Alan Moore has a long running feud with DC Comics. When he was working on Watchmen in the 1980’s, his contract stated that when Watchmen fell out of print for more than a year, the title and the rights of all the related characters would revert back to him. Unfortunately for Moore when Watchmen became a bestseller DC made sure that the comic never fell out of print. They continued to print issues ensuring they made a majority of the profit. When the Watchman’s popularity started to die down DC launched a prequel series focusing on the back story of each main character. Most recently DC launched an event titled Rebirth which features the characters of Watchman interacting with DC’s flagship characters such as Batman and Superman.
Moore left DC and eventually joined the company Wildstorm. Unfortunately for Moore Wildstorm was later bought out by DC and although DC promised not to interfere with Moore’s work they made many unnecessary changes. For example they had an entire print run of one of Moore’s comics destroyed when he used the word “Marvel” in the background, a reference to Marvel comics. They also blocked some of his comics due to what they saw an inappropriate subject matter. This last statement is ironic as it was Moore’s decision to tackle controversial subject matters that made Watchmen and V for Vendetta successes.
What did you think of my list? Have you ever published something you later regretted? Leave your answers down below and please don’t forget to like and share this post if you feel like it deserves it. Thank you and I’ll see you next time.