The Surprising Original Book Titles of These 10 Classics
Forget judging a book by its cover; a novel’s title can really make or break it (see exhibit A. And B. And C.). Which is why we were so surprised to find out that some of our favorite reads had totally different names to begin with—including some pretty weird ones. Here, ten original book titles we kinda can't believe.
George Orwell’s dystopian novel was originally titled The Last Man in Europe, but publishers felt this wasn’t commercial enough. Considering this harrowing book has sold over 30 million copies, we’d say they made the right choice.
2. To Kill a Mockingbird
This beloved classic was simply called Atticus until author Harper Lee apparently decided that the title was too character focused. (But what a character he is.)
3. The Great Gatsby
Imagine if your eighth-grade English class had been spent analyzing the theme’s of Trimalchio in West Egg or perhaps The High-Bouncing Lover? Author F. Scott Fitzgerald kicked quite a few titles around before finally settling on The Great Gatsby.
4. Pride and Prejudice
Jane Austen's father submitted an early version of the manuscript to a publisher (because you know, sexism) under the title First Impressions, but the publisher rejected it. She later added revisions to the text (plus a title change) and the rest is literary history.
The way we use this term today to describe a paradoxical problem (like needing your glasses in order to find your glasses) was actually coined by author Joseph Heller and his famous novel. But he initially wanted the title Catch-18, except this was too similar to the recently published Mila 18. He then thought of Catch-11, but this was scrapped because it was too similar to the film Ocean’s Eleven. He eventually doubled the number 11 and there you have it.
6. Gone With the Wind
Margaret Mitchell was originally just going to use the last line of her Pulitzer Prize-winning novel for the title, Tomorrow Is Another Day. Frankly, we don’t give a damn (see what we did there?) what she called it—this classic is a must-read.
7. The Sound and the Fury
Here’s a shocker: Nobel Prize-winning author William Faulkner may have called his most famous work Twilight instead. And where would that have left Bella, Edward and co.? We’ll never know.
8. Of Mice and Men
Originally called Something That Happened, John Steinbeck ultimately took the title for his book from the Robert Burns poem To a Mouse (“the best laid schemes of mice and men often go awry”). Oh Lennie.
Short and sweet, the name of Bram Stoker’s Gothic novel tells it like it is. But the original title was The Dead Un-Dead, which although scarier, is a little confusing.
10. Atlas Shrugged
It took Ayn Rand 12 years to write her most famous work, but she changed her mind about the title (originally called The Strike) just one year before it was released. Ultimately, Rand felt it gave away too much of the plot so she took her husband’s suggestion of Atlas Shrugged instead.