50

CityPress - - News -

Glo­ri­ous news for the over-50s! Pass­ing your half-cen­tury is not the be­gin­ning of a long and slow de­cline into for­got­ten phone num­bers and mis­laid car keys. Quite the op­po­site. For many, it is the start of a cre­ative ex­plo­sion of lit­er­ary tri­umph, artis­tic glory and en­tre­pre­neur­ial con­quest. As Manch­ester Univer­sity psy­chol­ogy pro­fes­sor Cary Cooper ex­plains, this surge is the re­lease of cre­ativ­ity that has al­ways been there, but put on hold as we’re weighed down by fam­ily and ca­reer re­spon­si­bil­i­ties. So, be in­spired by th­ese late bloomers and get writ­ing, paint­ing or sell­ing

For the first 50 years of his life, Daniel De­foe was a jack of all trades - trav­el­ling hosiery sales­man, wool mer­chant, busi­ness­man, poet, po­lit­i­cal pam­phle­teer and oc­ca­sional bank­rupt. Then he took up writ­ing and, in 1719, aged 59, penned his de­but novel, Robin­son Cru­soe.

As a teenager, Trevor Baylis swam for Great Bri­tain, but failed to qual­ify for the 1956 Mel­bourne Olympics. In 1991, aged 54 – af­ter stints in the army, as a swim­ming pool sales­man and a stunt per­former – he in­vented the wind-up ra­dio.

Har­land David San­ders, AKA The KFC Colonel, was a school dropout, farmer, steam­boat pi­lot, stoker and in­sur­ance sales­man. As a ser­vice sta­tion man­ager, he sold petrol and fried chicken din­ners to pass­ing cus­tomers from his front room in North Corbin, Ken­tucky, dur­ing the Great De­pres­sion.

When a new high­way was built, di­vert­ing all the traf­fic and ru­in­ing his busi­ness, he had a brain­wave – he fran­chised Ken­tucky Fried Chicken and opened the first branch in South Salt Lake, Utah, in 1952. He was 62.

Im­pov­er­ished in­ven­tor Wal­ter Hunt (53) cre­ated the safety pin - the first pin with a clasp and spring ac­tion, de­signed to keep fin­gers safe from in­jury, hence the name. On April 10 1849 he was granted a pa­tent, which he sold for $400 – a huge sum then – to a cred­i­tor.

New Yorker Jack Cover, a World War 2 test pi­lot, had worked as a sci­en­tist for Nasa and IBM be­fore re­launch­ing him­self in 1970 at 50 as an en­tre­pre­neur when he in­vented the Taser gun in his garage. Though not an im­me­di­ate suc­cess (the po­lice were wary), elec­troshock stun weapons are now used by law en­force­ment agents world­wide.

Peter Mark Ro­get wrote Ro­get’s Th­e­saurus, loved by word­smiths, when he was 73.

The first edi­tion of Ro­get’s Th­e­saurus was pub­lished in 1852. He su­per­vised ev­ery up­date un­til he died at the age of 90.

Laura In­galls Wilder, a mother of two from Wis­con­sin, wrote Lit­tle House in the Big Woods at 64. It started as an au­to­bi­og­ra­phy called Pi­o­neer Girl, but when she couldn’t find a pub­lisher, she re­worked it into the first of the Lit­tle House on the Prairie books in 1935.

Alexan­der McCall Smith was a pro­fes­sor of med­i­cal law at Ed­in­burgh Univer­sity who wrote un­suc­cess­ful books as a side­line.

But in 1998, the year he reached his half­cen­tury, he hit the big time with The No. 1 Ladies’ De­tec­tive Agency, his novel set in Botswana. It was sub­se­quently made into a BBC TV se­ries.

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