authors who dealt with poverty
Throughout history, humans have mastered the art of storytelling. Through images, oration and literature, authors have told unique stories that reflect their culture and experiences. Books endow readers with the gift of understanding another perspective. While some authors have enjoyed lavish lifestyles, others traveled down a rugged road with only a dream. These are five authors who dealt with poverty.

5 Authors Who Dealt With Poverty

  1. John Steinbeck: Born in 1902 in the rural Salinas Valley in California, Steinbeck was neither rich nor poor. At a young age, Steinbeck became fond of writing. After a brief tenure at Stanford, Steinbeck went to New York. An inability to secure employment paired with abysmal living conditions compelled him to return to California. In Lake Tahoe, he worked as a caretaker for an estate and as an employee at a fish hatchery. He bore extensive hours of work with unbearable temperatures. After multiple unsuccessful attempts as a writer, Steinbeck wrote his first successful novel, “Tortilla Flat,” in 1935. He went on to author “Of Mice and Men” and “The Grapes of Wrath” which both highlight the difficulties of migrant workers during the Great Depression. “The Grapes of Wrath” went on to win the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize in 1940. In 1962, John Steinbeck won the Nobel Prize in literature.
  2. J.K. Rowling: The acclaimed author of the Harry Potter series, Rowling did not come from humble beginnings. After a brutal divorce in 1994, Rowling became a single parent to her daughter. She had no money or job, forcing her to rely on British welfare. In 1997, Rowling’s life changed with the publishing of her book, “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.” She went on to write six more books in the series that sold upwards of 400 million copies. Her net worth today sits at around $1 billion. The Harry Potter series manifests some of the struggles in Rowling’s life, most profoundly, death. Her struggles in early adulthood stemmed from her mother’s death after a long battle with multiple sclerosis. After this trauma, Rowling was indecisive about the path she should take, similar to Harry Potter throughout the series.
  3. Stephen King: Regarded as one of the greatest horror writers of all time, Stephen King is another author that did not have an easy upbringing. At the age of 2, King’s father abandoned his family, leaving them in utter poverty. King’s mother took multiple low paying jobs in an effort to make ends meet. When he reached adulthood, King became employed at a textile mill in Maine. He worked outrageous 20-hour shifts with minimal pay. This work inspired him to write his first piece, “Graveyard Shifts.” After graduating from college, King took a low paying job at a laundromat and later secured a demanding teaching position hoping to provide for his family. During this time, King began writing “Carrie.” Upon finishing “Carrie,” publishers rejected it 30 times before publishing it. The novel helped King earn over $200,000 and jumpstart his writing career. He went on to write bestsellers such as “The Shining” and “It.” King was always interested in the horror genre because he had experienced a great deal of trauma during his life. King’s novels such as “The Mangler,” “Salem’s Lot” and “Duma’s Key” all include elements of his struggles throughout life
  4. Charles Dickens: One of the most influential writers of the Victorian Era, Dickens has constructed a plethora of acclaimed novels. Born in 1812, Dickens was the second oldest of eight children. While his parents worked to provide the best life possible, the family remained poor. In 1822, the family moved to the poor neighborhood of Camden Town in London. Dickens’ father went to prison for being in debt shortly after in 1824. As a result, Dickens had to leave school and work at a run-down shoe polishing factory. He worked strenuous hours to only earn six shillings per week. Dickens was able to return to school when his father paid his debts and left prison but he ended up working again at the age of 15 to help his family. In 1836, Dickens published his first book, “Sketches by Boz.” He married soon thereafter and went on to publish stellar novels such as “Oliver Twist,” “A Christmas Carol” and “Great Expectations.” Dickens’ early life played an integral role in shaping his works. His feelings of being usurped of his childhood and education are evident in books such as “Hard Times” and “Oliver Twist.”
  5. George Orwell: Born in 1903 in Bengal, India, people have lauded George Orwell for his creative works based on his societal observations. Orwell characterizes his parents as those with wealthy attitudes without substance. In 1911, Orwell returned to England with his parents and began attending boarding school. Despite being brilliant, people ostracized Orwell due to his poverty. In 1928, he went to live among the poor for over a year in London and, later, Paris. In Paris, he worked as a dishwasher and attempted to understand the lives and values of the poor. Orwell’s disdain for imperialism prompted him to write “Down and Out in Paris and London,” a fictional recount of his time in Paris and London. In 1946, Orwell began writing “1984,” which describes a future dystopia where the entire world succumbs to poverty due to governmental repression. Other famous works include “The Road to Wigan Pier,” which highlights the life of impoverished mine workers in England, and “Animal Farm,” an allegorical satire of communism and the Soviet Union.

These five authors who dealt with poverty are examples of people who did not give in to the demeaning nature of poverty. They used literature as an outlet to convey their deepest emotions. Books entail more than fictional elements. They are a reflection of the events and hardships in the author’s life with perennial lessons, and these authors are an exemplification of this.

Jai Shah
Photo: Flickr

quotes about helping
Here is a list of 10 quotes about helping others, compiled by The Borgen Project:

1. “The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

2. “Those who are happiest are those who do the most for others.” – Booker T. Washington

3. “When we give cheerfully and accept gratefully, everyone is blessed.” – Maya Angelou

4. “Many small people, in many small places, do many small things, that can alter the face of the world.” – Unknown

5. “As you grow older, you will discover that you have two hands, one for helping yourself, the other for helping others.” – Audrey Hepburn

6. “No one is useless in this world who lightens the burdens of another.” – Charles Dickens

7. “Believe, when you are most unhappy, that there is something for you to do in the world. So long as you can sweeten another’s pain, life is not in vain.” – Helen Keller

8. “Everybody can be great. Because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and your verb agree to serve…. You don’t have to know the second theory of thermodynamics in physics to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.” – Martin Luther King Jr.

9. “I know of no great men except those who have rendered great service to the human race.” – Voltaire

10. “No one has ever become poor by giving.” – Anne Frank

Hannah Cleveland

Sources: GoodReads
Photo: The Motion Machine

These 5 great male writers express in their writing the importance of giving back:


I slept and dreamt that life was joy. I awoke and saw that life was service. I acted and behold, service was joy.

– Rabindranath Tagore, a Nobel Prize winning Indian writer, whose novels and poetry are still admired by the whole world today. Famous works include Gitanjali, The Home and the World, and some select poetry.


No one is useless in this world who lightens the burdens of another.

– Charles Dickens, a 19th century English writer who was well known and renowned for his giving voice to the poor through his writing. Famous works include A Tale of Two CitiesGreat Expectations, and A Christmas Carol.


To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.

– Ralph Waldo Emerson, a 19th century American transcendentalist writer, who wrote mostly philosophical essays. Famous works include “Self Reliance,” “Nature,” and other select essays.


Charity itself fulfills the law/ And who can sever love from charity?

– William Shakespeare, the great bard, perhaps the most well-known playwright in history, toyed with themes of politics, society, and family. Famous works include Romeo and JulietHamletMuch Ado about Nothing, and a collection of sonnets.


While we do our good works let us not forget that the real solution lies in a world in which charity will have become unnecessary.

– Chinua Achebe, a 21st century Nigerian author who writes from a post-colonial perspective, tying his stories back to the colonial era. Famous works include Things Fall ApartArrow of GodAnthills of the Savannah, and a particularly controversial criticism of Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness.

– Aalekhya Malladi

5 Great Female Writers on Giving Back

Sources: Goodreads, Moveme Quotes
Photo: Paste Magazine