Callum McGeoch rounds up today's literary prodigies (plus a few from yesteryear) and asks, is youth marketing a question of oeuvre and out?
BIDISHA BANDYOPADHYAY

Novel: Seahorses (Flamingo). Age composed: 16. Bidisha was given a pounds 15,000 advance for her first (unwritten) novel when an agent spotted her embryonic talents in the pages of NME.

JENN CROWELL

Novel: Necessary Madness (Hodder). Age composed: 17. "She looks about 15," claims her publicist, "but she speaks like a mature writer." Is she possessed?

BO FOWLER

Novel: Scepticism Inc. (Cape). Age published: 22. The publishers must be hoping for staying power from their "new Vonnegut" to justify that juicy pounds 140,000 advance.

CAITLIN MORAN

Novel: The Chronicles of Narmo (Doubleday). Age composed: 13. Moran's scribblings made a successful children's book. Now 22, she is working on a sitcom.

RICHARD MASON

Novel: The Drowning People (Penguin). Age published: 22. Floppy-haired Oxford undergraduate whose debut earned him a pounds 200,000 advance. Hollywood is said to be interested.

MATT THORNE

Novel: Tourist (Sceptre). Age published: 23. "As sad as Sunday and as sexy as a scar," says Julie Burchill.

CHRIS WOODING

Novel: Crashing (Scholastic Press). Age published: 19. "Fresh, funky fiction for teenage life," You astonish me.

LOUISE BAGSHAWE

Novel: Career Girls (Orion). Age published: 23. The 1989 Young Poet of the Year quickly abandoned pretensions to critical acclaim and turned her talents to writing raunchy blockbusters.

AND SOME EXCEPTIONS WHO PROVED THE RULE BY ESCAPING FIRST NOVELITIS AND HENCE LITERARY OBLIVION

MARTIN AMIS

Novel: The Rachel Papers. Age published: 23. Pretty good in fact, so much so that most people didn't notice he was an infant when it was composed.

DAISY ASHFORD

Novel: The Young Visiters (sic). Age composed: 9. She produced an unwitting classic of comic writing, but did JM Barrie write more than just the preface?

JANE AUSTEN

Novel: Sense and Sensibility. Age composed: 22. Even at this tender age the woman had a preternatural grasp of the human condition.

SUSAN HILL

Novel: The Enclosure. Age published: 18. Hill's first novel came out amid a storm of headlines of the "Schoolgirl writes about sex" variety.

MARY SHELLEY

Novel: Frankenstein. Age composed: 19. Classic horror from a mere teen.

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