15 Late Bloomers Who Will Inspire You To Chase Your Dreams


I hope you live a life you’re proud of, and if you’re not, I hope you have the courage to start all over again.” - F Scott Fitzgerald

Have you ever wanted to do something new, but felt too old to start? Maybe you considered beginning a career as a doctor, lawyer, musician, painter, corporate executive, or just a more engaging job. 

Regardless, the concern that we’re too old is a common one. It’s enough to feel like we shouldn’t even begin. 

As Julia Cameron illustrates in her book The Artist’s Way, it’s a common conversation she has with her students:

“But do you know how old I will be by the time I learn to really play the piano/act/paint/write a decent play?” 

Yes . . . the same age you will be if you don’t. So let’s start.”

I’ve personally dealt with this. When I was in my early to mid twenties and yearning to be a musician, I desperately read the WIkipedia pages of my favorite musicians to see what age they began: 

How old was George Harrison when he started playing guitar?

When did The Strokes play their first show?

When did Radiohead release their first album?

I was really trying to answer one question: Is it too late for me?

And to convince you (and myself), I compiled a list of late bloomers that eventually found their "art' at a later age, ordered from youngest to oldest.

Haruki Murakami - 29

Haruki Murakami, a Japanese novelist and short story writer, is known for his unique blend of magical realism and existential themes. Murakami's writing has gained him a global following and numerous awards for his novels such as "Norwegian Wood" and "Kafka on the Shore." 

Despite achieving literary success, Murakami didn’t start writing until he was 29. "Before that, I didn't write anything. I was just one of those ordinary people. I was running a jazz club, and I didn't create anything at all."

Albert Schweitzer - 30

Albert Schweitzer, a renowned theologian, organist, philosopher, and humanitarian, is best known for his exceptional contributions to the fields of medicine and philanthropy. Schweitzer's profound belief in the reverence for life and his dedication to humanitarian efforts in Africa earned him global recognition and the Nobel Peace Prize in 1952. 

But it wasn't he was 30 did Schweitzer decide to get into the field of medicine. At the age of 36 he obtained a medical degree and founded a hospital in Gabon, Africa, where he spent the rest of his life providing medical care to underserved communities.

Leonard Cohen - 32 

Leonard Cohen was a Canadian singer-songwriter, poet, and novelist who is best known for his poetic lyrics and unique voice.

But Cohen's journey to success was not a conventional one. He began his writing career as a poet and novelist, but after not seeing success in those areas, he began to pursue a career in music in his 30s. He released his debut album, "Songs of Leonard Cohen," in 1967 when he was 33 years old, and it received critical acclaim.

Mikel Jollett - 32

Mikel Jollett is an American musician, writer, and political activist. He is best known as the lead vocalist and guitarist for the indie rock band The Airborne Toxic Event, which he founded in 2006. 

But Jollett didn’t start the band until the ripe age of 32, and that was after several tragic events occurred in his life. 

Paulo Coelho - 34

Paulo Coelho is a Brazilian author who is best known for his inspirational and philosophical novels. His books, such as "The Alchemist" and "Brida," have sold millions of copies worldwide and have been translated into several languages. 

Despite his eventual success as an author, Coelho's writing career didn’t start until he was in his 30s. After working as a theater director and lyricist, he published his first book in 1982 at the age of 34. Coelho's late start in writing didn’t hinder his prolific and influential career as an author. 

Martha Stewart - 35

Martha Stewart is a household name in the United States for her expertise in cooking, home decor, and general housekeeping advice. With her best-selling cookbooks and television shows, Martha Stewart has established herself as a prominent figure in the world of lifestyle and homemaking. 

But Stewart wasn’t always in the culinary and home decor industry. In fact, she didn’t really begin until she was 35 and started a catering business. And her career didn’t take off until her 40s.

Robert Greene - 36

Robert Greene, an American author and speaker, is recognized for his books on human behavior, power dynamics, and strategy. His works, including "The 48 Laws of Power," "The Art of Seduction," and "Maastery," have been praised for their unique insights into human nature and have gained a large following worldwide. 

But Greene's writing career did not take off until he was in his 30s. He explained that at the time his career wasn’t going well and he was feeling depressed

After working in various jobs and pursuing different interests, Greene published his first book, "The 48 Laws of Power," at the age of 36, which marked the beginning of his successful career as a bestselling author and renowned expert on human behavior and power dynamics.

Julia Child - 36

Julia Child was an American chef, author, and television personality who is best known for bringing French cuisine to the American public through her cookbook "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" and her television show "The French Chef." 

She didn’t start learning to cook until 1948 when moved to Paris with her husband. This exposed her to the world of French cuisine when she was 36.

Toni Morrison - 39

Toni Morrison, an American novelist, essayist, and Nobel Prize laureate, is known for her powerful and influential works that explore the African American experience and shed light on the complexities of race, gender, and identity. 

Morrison's literary career began to take off in her 40s when she published her debut novel, "The Bluest Eye," at the age of 39. Not only was this feat accomplished later in life, Morrison did so as a single mother of two sons, waking up at 4am every day to write (1).

Rodney Dangerfield - Early 40s

Rodney Dangerfield was an American comedian and actor who was best known for his self-deprecating humor and catchphrase "I don't get no respect." He had a long and successful career in comedy, both in stand-up and in movies.

However, Dangerfield's comedy career didn’t start until he was in his 40s. While working as a salesman, Dangerfield began performing as a stand-up comedian, and his breakthrough came when he was in his 50s. 

Sybille Bedford - 42

Sybille Bedford was a German-born writer and journalist who lived from 1911 to 2006. She was known for her books which included novels, memoirs, and travel writing. 

Due to World War II she moved from France to the United States. Then in her 40s, after spending a year traveling in Mexico, she published her first book at the age of 42. 

Anthony Bourdain - 43

Anthony Bourdain, a celebrated chef, author, and television personality, was known for his culinary expertise, unique storytelling, and adventurous spirit. Bourdain gained worldwide fame through his television shows, such as "Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations" and "Parts Unknown," where he explored diverse cultures and cuisines, captivating audiences with his candid and immersive approach to food and travel. 

But before achieving media fame, he was a chef living paycheck to paycheck. It was when he was around 43 years old that an article he wrote was published in the New York Times which ultimately led to his television career.

Francis Milton Trollope - 50

Francis Milton Trollope, an English novelist and travel writer, is known for her literary works and her pioneering role as a female writer in the 19th century. 

Trollope's writing career started in her 50s after she experienced financial difficulties and turned to writing as a means of income. She lived until she was 84 and wrote 40 books.

Colonel Sanders - 60

Colonel Sanders was an American businessman and founder of Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC). 

But before gaining success with fried chicken, Sanders struggled to make his businesses work. Early on Sanders worked in various jobs, including as a steam engine stoker, a lawyer, and a gas station operator, and faced multiple failures in business. 

It wasn’t until his 60s, when he perfected his chicken recipe and opened his first KFC franchise, that he found success.

Grandma Moses - 70

Grandma Moses, whose real name was Anna Mary Robertson Moses, was an American folk artist who achieved widespread recognition for her unique paintings later in life. She was born in 1860 and began painting in her late 70s.

In the 1940s, a New York art collector discovered her paintings in a local drugstore and was captivated by her work. This led to her first solo exhibition in a New York City gallery in 1940, when she was 80 years old. 

The success she experienced as an artist has inspired many, showing that it's never too late to pursue your passion and achieve recognition for your talents, regardless of age.

Parting Thoughts

At the time of writing this, I’m 32 years old. Although I’m more aware that time is limited, I have also come to understand that my age has nothing to do with doing pursuing one's dreams.

As long as I have life energy, I will allocate a portion of that energy to doing the things I'm passionate about. 

More importantly, I know that paths like musician, writer, designer, or artist aren't reserved for bright-eyed university students. The discipline doesn't care about how old you are. It's only question is if your desire is sincere.

The question is not "Is it too late?", "Can I do it?", or "Do I deserve it?" 

The question is "What do I need?", "Is my desire for this true, or is there an ulterior motive?", "What am I passionate about?"

The only prerequisite is a sincere desire, not your age.

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