A Collection of Rejected Titles for Classic Books

When Jane Austen’s father submitted an early version of her second novel, First Impressions, to a publisher on her behalf, it was rejected. As Pride and Prejudice, it did much better. [via]

Don DeLillo wanted to name his 1985 breakout novel Panasonic, but the corporation’s lawyers protested, and he settled for White Noise. [via]

Once Max Brod got his hands on it, Kafka’s The Man Who Disappeared was retitled as Amerika. [via]

Philip Roth’s most famous novel went through incarnations as The JewboyWacking Off, and A Jewish Patient Begins his Analysis before it became Portnoy’s Complaint. [via]

Bafflingly, All’s Well that Ends Well was the original title for Tolstoy’s epic War and Peace — in fact, it was first released under that title until its publishers came to their senses. [via]

Toni Morrison wanted to name her first post-Nobel prize novel War, but instead wound up calling it the wildly dissimilar Paradise. [via]

They Don’t Build Statues to Businessmen was the original title of Jaqueline Susann’s Valley of the Dolls. [via]

Rick Moody, who has described himself as a ‘bad titler,’ eventually changed the title of his novelF.F. to The Ice Storm. Apparently, “F.F.” would have been meant as “short for ‘Fantastic Four’ or a variant of the notation for ‘fortissimo.’” [via]

Trimalchio in West Egg; Among Ash-Heaps and Millionaires; On the Road to West Egg; Under the Red, White, and Blue; Gold-Hatted Gatsby; and The High-Bouncing Lover were all titles considered for F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby. [via]

Adolf Hitler originally wanted to title his book Four and a Half Years of Struggle Against Lies, Stupidity and Cowardice, but ultimately changed it to the much more succinct Mein Kampf. [via]

Ford Maddox Ford wanted to call his novel The Saddest Story — he only suggested calling it The Good Soldier as a joke, but his publisher wasn’t laughing, and took him up on it. [via]

The Last Man in Europe wasn’t commercial enough for George Orwell’s publisher, who suggested they go with 1984. [via]

When William Golding’s first novel was discovered in Faber and Faber’s slush pile, it was calledStrangers from Within. With a little editorial guidance, every American schoolchild now reads it as Lord of the Flies. [via]

In the end, Ayn Rand thought her first title, The Strike, gave too much plot away, and renamed her novel Atlas Shrugged, at the suggestion of her husband. [via]

Tomorrow Is Another Day was the working title of Gone With the Wind, and that’s not the only change we’re grateful for: up until the very last second, Scarlett was named ‘Pansy.’ Bullet dodged. [via]

Bram Stoker considered many titles, one of them being The Dead Un-Dead, before landing on the much less B-filmish Dracula. [via]

When Carson McCullers was twenty-one, she submitted six chapters of her first novel, The Mute, to Houghton-Mifflin. They offered her an advance, renamed the book The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter, and launched her career. [via]

Fiesta, the original title of Ernest Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises, is still used on many foreign editions. [via]

Evelyn Waugh’s The House of the Faith was changed to the much more distinctive titleBrideshead Revisited. [via]

Joseph Heller originally imagined his novel as a Catch-11, but doubled the number to Catch-22so as not to compete with the recently released Ocean’s Eleven. [via]

Alex Haley’s influential 1976 novel was changed from Before This Anger to the much more diplomatic Roots: The Saga of an American Family. [via]

When Harper Lee decided her magnum opus was about more than one character, Atticus becameTo Kill a Mockingbird. [via]

Vladimir Nabokov originally planned on calling his most famous work The Kingdom by the Seabefore it became the Lolita we know and love today. Waste not, want not — Nabokov used a very similar phrase (A Kingdom by the Sea) in his 1974 pseudo-autobiographical novel Look at the Harlequins! as the title of a Lolita-like book written by the narrator. [via]

Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward’s book about the Watergate scandal was originally called At this Point in Time, before it was changed to the more dramatic All the President’s Men. [via]

Stephen Crane’s original manuscript was entitled Private Fleming, His Various Battles, but in an attempt to keep it from sounding like what he considered to be a more traditional Civil War narrative, he renamed it The Red Badge of Courage. [via]

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