I previously wrote in one of my posts that F. Scott Fitzgerald wanted to title his novel The Great Gatsby as Trimalchio in West Egg and that Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen was originally titled First Impressions. In this post I look at ten other books that changed their original titles.
I. 1984 by George Orwell
Original Title: The Last Man in Europe
George Orwell titled his most famous book The Last Man in Europe before his publisher intervened and suggested 1984. Allegedly, the author also tweaked with the title for Animal Farm .
II. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
Original Title: Catch-11 or Catch-18
Heller seriously considered calling his satirical book either Catch-11 or Catch-18. However, because, in 1961, at the moment of the publication, there was already something titled Ocean’s 11 (the original heist film with Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin), as well Leon Uris’ novel Mila 18 , Heller and his publisher finally settled for Catch-22. The reasoning was that, after all, 22 is simply 11 doubled.
III. Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson
Original Title: The Sea Cook
Reading Stevenson’s novel, it becomes clear why the author wanted to title it The Sea Cook. However, Treasure Island is definitely a much more appealing and exciting title.
IV. War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
Original Title: All’s Well That Ends Well
This Russian classic had real danger of being titled All’s Well That Ends Well. Perhaps Tolstoy thought along the Shakespearean play, but people say there was another reason. Allegedly, Tolstoy wanted to write a novel about the deportation of Decembrists and titled it All’s Well That Ends Well. However, that got him into thinking deeply about the causes of the deportation and other related issues, including the broader situation in the country. As his novel changed and became more “global” in its outlook, the title changed with it to reflect broader themes and became War and Peace.
V. Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
Original Title: Tomorrow is Another Day
Margaret Mitchell originally titled her book Tomorrow is Another Day (previous drafts also contained such titles as Not in Our Stars, Bugles Sang True, Pansy and Tote the Weary Load). The phrase “gone with the end” is taken from the 1894 poem by Ernest Dowson that has the following lines: “I have forgot much, Cynara! gone with the wind / Flung roses, roses riotously with the throng / Dancing, to put thy pale, lost lilies out of mind…”
VI. Dracula by Bram Stoker
Original Title: The Dead Un-Dead
Bram Stoker’s gothic horror novel was originally titled The Dead Un-Dead. The author also thought that the main character should be called Count Wampyr. That was before he found the story of Vlad The Impaler and the surname of his descendants – Dracul. He was intrigued by that name and the rest is history.
VII. The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers
Original Title: The Mute
McCullers’ debut book is about John Singer (and his pal Spiros Antonapoulos), people who are both deaf and mute and who live in a small town in Georgia, US. Given this, title The Mute is very logical . However, it is also rather unimaginative. The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter is a title that is poetic and reflects the novel’s main themes: loneliness and the desire to be understood and accepted.
VIII. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
Original Title: Prometheus Unchained
Mary Shelley seriously considered giving a title to her novel of just that – Prometheus Unchained, after a myth about Prometheus. In one of the mythical tales, this god decided to build the world in such a way as to make men “superior”. The full title of Shelley’s novel is Frankenstein; or the Modern Prometheus, and her husband’s (Percy Shelley) lyrical drama of 1820 is titled Prometheus Unbound.
IX. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
Original Title: Offred
Naming a book by its central character makes perfect sense, and, truthfully, I like the title Offred. It is an unusual name and it is also a name that tells its own horrifying story – being a patronymic from the male name Fred, symbolically “robbing” a woman that has this name from her own identity.
X. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
Original Title: The Fireman
This entry is a bit of a cheat because Ray Bradbury did publish a short story called The Fireman and that story was later expanded to become Fahrenheit 451.