Books and Original Titles: Did Yours Change?

Rachel Kent

Blogger: Rachel Kent

I came across an article in The Huffington Post about classic books and their original titles. Most of them are SO different from the true title of the work.

Here is a brief list, but be sure to check out the article for more books:

Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice was originally titled First Impressions.

F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby was originally Trimalchio in West Egg.

Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell was first titled Mules in Horses’ Harness and also Tomorrow Is Another Day; Not in Our Stars; Tote the Weary Load; or Bugles Sang True.

Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird was originally titled Atticus.

J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings series was titled The War of the Ring.

Lord of the Flies by William Golding was originally Strangers From Within.

And John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men was originally titled Something That Happened.

Personally, I like the simple title Atticus better than To Kill a Mockingbird, though I suppose it doesn’t embody the entire story very well.

And I don’t think John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men is well-titled, but it seems to have worked for him. 🙂

What do you think of these titles or the others on the Huffington Post article? Do you like the final titles the best?

How did you come up with your book’s title?

And if you are published, is your published book title the original title or did it change?

4 Responses

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  1. Mules in Horses’ Harness is a fun title, but I don’t think it would have had the staying power of Gone with the Wind! I think the audience would have been much more limited!
    Titling is fun but my first (or even second or 23rd) idea for a title almost never has that “zing” a great title needs. I rely heavily on critique partners and other writing friends to come up with titles for my stories.

  2. Pat Iacuzzi says:

    I kinda like First Impressions for Pride & Prejudice–but it still doesn’t quite have the same punch to it. I’m working on a story entitled A Winter’s Hour; the protagonist’s internal conflict forces her to make a life-changing decision while a blizzard rages outside.
    I’ve recently picked up a mystery by a favorite author, and the publisher dubbed it with a five-word title that sounds rather antiquated…and hard to remember! I’d rather have something short that makes an
    Thanks, Rachel, for giving us something to consider, as I’ve gone crazy making lists of titles, having friends vote on them, or choosing one from a hat! (yes, I’ve done that–drives me crazy!) 🙂

  3. Mary Kay Moody says:

    Reading these title alternatives is a kick. I prefer most of those that were actually used. They seem to have a grandness and/or memorability factor that the “also rans” don’t have. (Or could it be familiarity?) I mean ~ First Impressions would work, but Pride & Prejudice hints at great conflict. Tote the Weary Load conveys a lot of the hardship, but GWTW in a moment highlights the speed at which one’s world can change, never to return. (As people referred to the dramatic world change on Dec. 7, 1941 or Sept. 11, 2001)

    Often titles make more sense after the book is read. One beta reader told me she’d be unlikely to slip a book from the shelf to check it out with the title I had on it. After reading she said, “The title is perfect. DON’T change it.” In that case, i’m glad when it finally gets to print, I’ll have the help of a publishing team to settle on the best title. 🙂

    Thanks for this fun tour, Rachel.

  4. Most of my titles have stuck, but a few were changed: The Maid of Maidstone became The Maid of Fairbourne Hall, and The Secret Room became The Secret of Pembrooke Park. Fun list. Thanks, Rachel!