Portrait of the Writer as a Young Child

When I was in kindergarten, I penned and illustrated my first (and only) book. The protagonist was a butterfly and I vaguely remember crayons being involved in the production of said book. The teacher was so impressed that she laminated it to give to my parents. I’m pretty sure my mother still has it stashed away in her house–in safe keeping, I hope!

What got me thinking about this was a recent story I heard on NPR, “Small Book, Big Story: Bronte Manuscript Discovered.”

 Next month, the auction house Sotheby’s will sell one such manuscript produced by a 14-year-old Charlotte, estimated to fetch $315,000 to $475,000. The magazine is tiny, “half the size of a credit card,” Gabriel Heaton, deputy director of books and manuscripts at Sothebys, tells NPR’s Linda Wertheimer, and designed to be the right size for the Bronte children’s toy soldiers. Its 19 pages are crammed with more than 4,000 words — short stories, news, even advertisements — discernible only by magnifying glass.

courtesy of Sotheby's

Granted, Charlotte had about 9 years up on me but her “childhood book” seems so much more crafted than my own (well-played, Bronte, well-played). But I digress. When I read about this and saw the photos, I wasn’t surprised. My opinion is that talented people show talent throughout their lives and in various forms.

I am curious to hear other people’s personal anecdotes about themselves or stories they’ve heard about famous writers, painters, etc.


  1. I was about to say that is it interesting to see famous artists’ early work and appreciate that they, too, once were beginners and struggling artists…but I can’t think of a single example. So, like Charlotte, they all started out fabulous and brilliant? I certainly hope not. But I will say that I can stare at Picasso’s childhood paintings happily for long periods of time. I can also say that my first book, from kindegarten, was titled ‘Patty the Pumpkin,’ and is still on my mom’s bookshelf in laminated glory.

    1. Superb! Kindergarten must be the time of lamination. An update from my mother via email:

      “I found a box of your art work. No butterfly story, but your ink blot butterfly painting. Also a certificate stating that you were a clowns assistant.”

      I hardly believe the latter statement because like most sane people, I hate clowns.

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