Writers Have Always Been Hustlers

Are you a literary harlot? You are not alone.

Even Vladimir Nabokov had an eye for self-marketing, subtly suggesting to photo editors that they feature him as a lepidopterist prancing about the forests in cap, shorts and long socks. (“Some fascinating photos might be also taken of me, a burly but agile man, stalking a rarity or sweeping it into my net from a flowerhead,” he enthused.) Across the pond, the Bloomsbury set regularly posed for fashion shoots in British Vogue in the 1920s. The frumpy Virginia Woolf even went on a “Pretty Woman”-style shopping expedition at French couture houses in London with the magazine’s fashion editor in 1925.

Best of all? “In 1887, Guy de Maupassant sent up a hot-air balloon over the Seine with the name of his latest short story, ‘Le Horla,’ painted on its side.” Um, tacky! Tacky like an enormo mustache.