See You Later: A Few Amazing Late-Blooming Ladies

March 6, 2020

They say it’s never too late to succeed in life, and it was true for these highly accomplished women who found fame and fortune after 40.

The late Mary Higgins Clark (she passed away in February 2020) is among the bestselling authors of all time. More than 100 million copies of the more than 50 mystery novels by the prolific “Queen of Suspense” are in print. She started to write seriously in 1964, and didn’t publish her first book, Where Are the Children?, in 1975. At that point, Clark was 47 years old.

Vera Wang is one of the world’s top fashion designers and is especially synonymous with her particularly lovely wedding gowns. After an early pursuit as a figure skater didn’t work out, and then after a long career as a journalist, Wang discovered she was a pretty talented clothes designer and maker, at the age of 40.

Julia Child is the first celebrity chef, thanks to her blockbuster cookbook Mastering the Art of French Cooking and one of the earliest cooking TV shows, The French Chef. Before that, she worked in the ISS (a precursor to the CIA) and in advertising and only committed to her passion, food, in midlife. She published the book at age 49.

The Little House books are a staple of childhood reading and a semi-fictionalized, first-person historical document of what life was like for settlers in the stark Midwest of the mid-19th century. Laura Ingalls Wilder wrote those very descriptive texts (the inspiration for TV’s Little House on the Prairie) from memory, publishing her first one in 1932 when she was 65.

One of the most well-known American painters of the 20th century, for her pastoral landscapes and folksy country scenes, is Anna Mary Robertson Moses…better (and aptly) known as Grandma Moses. She carried on a lucrative career as an artist for more than 20 years, especially impressive because she didn’t really pick up a brush until she was 78.

Read about more remarkable women in Who Knew? Women in Historyby Sarah Herman. It’s available now from Portable Press.