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From Zadie Smith to Helen Oyeyemi and Emily Brontë, bestselling female authors who nailed their biggest hit novel under the age of 30

It's slightly depressing to think that while we squandered our college days on endless rounds of Snakebite, some of our contemporaries were signing their first book deals. 

Award-winning novelist Helen Oyeyemi secured rights for her first novel The Icarus Girl when she was studying for A-Levels at school. Mary Shelley wrote her gothic masterpiece Frankenstein at the tender age of 19, inspired by a holiday with friends that was spent telling ghost stories. And at 25, Téa Obreht became the youngest person ever to win the Orange prize for her Balkans war story The Tiger's Wife.

These young writers and others like them breezily implode the myth that you have to have had years of life experience behind you to become an established author. Their fresh and original voices conjure up imaginative, sharply observed prose that easily rivals that of veteran literary heavyweights. 

Meet the bright young things of literature, both past and present, who have set the publishing world alight: 

Words: Anna Brech, Images: Rex Features and Getty Images

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