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The Quick 10: The Almost-Titles of 10 More Books

There are so many books that have been retitled (usually with much better names), I couldn’t just stop at the 10-10-10 list. Here are 10 more books who were almost called something else – you have to wonder if a different title might have changed their level of popularity.

1. Animal Farm was first published as Animal Farm: A Fairy Story. But there’s also Animal Farm: A Satire and Animal Farm: A Contemporary Satire.
2. Steinbeck’s East of Eden could have ended up any number of things: The Salinas Valley, My Valley, Down to the Valley, or Cain Sign. He finally decided on the final title after he wrote 16 verses of Cain and Abel into the novel and stumbled upon the phrase.
3. Treasure Island is the classic title we know today, but when it was originally serialized in a children’s magazine it was called The Sea Cook.
4. The first version of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland – that is, the handwritten copy Lewis Carroll gave to his muse, Alice Pleasance Liddell – was called Alice’s Adventures Under Ground and contained his own illustrations. There’s speculation that an even earlier copy once existed but may have been destroyed by Carroll.

5. Tennessee Williams’ The Glass Menagerie was first called The Gentleman Caller and was written with Ethel Barrymore and Judy Garland in mind.

6. Would a novel called The Stillness in the Water or Leviathan Rising have made such a great horror movie? Since it was retitled Jaws before publication, we’ll never know.

7. Steinbeck was an amazing writer, to be sure, but an amazing titler… maybe not. Before reading Robert Burns’ poem To a Mouse, Of Mice and Men was going to be called Something That Happened.

8. For quite some time, Tolstoy’s War and Peace was simply called 1805. And as Seinfeld fans know, it was also briefly called War: What Is It Good For?

9. Before Mark Twain wrote the follow up to The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, he was thinking about calling it Huckleberry Finn’s Autobiography. Of course, he ended up calling it Adventures of Huckleberry Finn instead.

10. The Bridges of Madison County was first published in the U.K. as Love in Black and White.


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