6 Famous People Who Have Received Brutal Rejection Letters

6 Famous People Who Have Received Brutal Rejection Letters

VIVIAN GIANG OCT. 31, 2013, 10:34 PM 3,723 2

What’s the most difficult thing every successful person has to deal with? Rejection. Recent Nobel Prize winner Alice Munro made headlines when an archive of her rejection letters were found through the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas at Austin. One letter, written by Knopf editor Judith Jones in 1968 in response to Munro’s book “Dance of the Happy Shades,” says there is “nothing particularly new and exciting” about the short stories and calls Munro “not that young.” Today, Munro is the first Canadian and 13th woman to win the Nobel Prize in literature. She isn’t the only successful person to receive heart-wrenching rejection letters. C.S. Lewis received 800 rejections before he sold his first piece of writing, and Mary Higgins Clark spent six years trying to get her first novel published, which she sold for $100. Forty years after that first novel, Clark accepted a $64 million book deal with Simon Schuster in the 1990s. Below are six rejection letters that now-famous people once received:This 1968 rejection letter for “Dance of the Happy Shades” calls Munro’s work “easily overlooked” and “forgotten.”


Harry Ransom Center / The University of Texas at Austin

Before he became famous for masterpieces such as “Beetlejuice” and “The Nightmare before Christmas,” Tim Burton was rejected by Disney.


Snowball Effekt


Famed fantasy writer Ursula K. Le Guin posted a rejection letter that calls her book “unreadable” on her web site to remind others to “hang in there.”


Ursula K. Le Guin


Author Gertrude Stein was probably fuming when she got this letter from publisher Arthur C. Fifield mocking her manuscript of “Three Lives.”


Random House

After mailing The Atlantic three samples of his work, Kurt Vonnegut received this rejection letter from editor Edward Weeks in 1949. It now hangs in the Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library in Indianapolis.

Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library in Indianapolis

In 1956, MoMA declined to accept Andy Warhol’s drawing titled “Shoe,” which he gave the museum as a gift. MoMA now owns 168 pieces by the artist.


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