15 Famous Authors With Surprising College Majors

You’re undoubtedly wondering what this title has to do with serving our seas. Actually, I’m trying to make a point: you don’t have to be a naval architect, shipwreck diver, shipbuilder, or anything related to the sea in order to serve it. In fact, my training is a foreign language education; specifically, I taught French and Spanish for 37 years.

Somehow, I mustered the courage to relearn the Italian language, learned from scratch naval architecture, and how to write autobiography, technical material, and interview sea survivors and scientists. To what do I attribute this?

PASSION– passion to share my survival story. As an extension of this, I’ve developed a passion to help others save, serve and enjoy one of the planet’s greatest assets: our oceans.

I think Helen Keller would approve of this blog post. (see preceding blog post about apathy, the opposite of passion.) If she were alive, she would  probably say, “Regardless of your training,  get on your lifeboat and row with passion!  The quality of your life is dependent on the quality of our seas.”

15 Famous Authors With Surprising College Majors

Here is the Writers in the Sky blogpost, published by a writer with metaphysical training, Yvonne Perry.
“You may have been told that it doesn’t really matter what you major in, because you may not ever get a job that pertains to your major. Case in point: These famous authors didn’t major in writing, or literature, or even journalism. Instead, they enriched their minds taking other, equally challenging classes, and used their experiences to become successful writers. In fact, several of them have won the Pulitzer Prize, considered one of the world’s greatest honors in literature.”

1. After growing up in several different Quaker communities as a child, Anne Tyler, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Accidental Tourist and Breathing Lessons, graduated from Duke at the young age of 19 and completed graduate work in Russian Studies at Columbia.

2. Larry Niven, author of “hard,” or extremely technical, science fiction novels set in the “Known Space” universe, is famed for his creation of the “Ringworld” concept. This is the idea of a band approximately the diameter of Earth’s orbit rotating around a star, and has been used in several other science fiction works, including the video game Halo. He has been a prolific writer since the 1960s but didn’t study writing in college. He was a mathematics major at Washburn University in Kansas and also did graduate work in math at UCLA.

3. Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. majored in chemistry and engineering before being sent to fight in World War II. His experience as a POW in a German camp gave him the inspiration for Slaughterhouse-Five, his most famous work. His books and short stories included elements of science fiction and satire.

To read about other authors and their non-authorial training:


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