The above linked article talks about classics that never got off the ground, so we aren’t able to read them today. Some of them sound like they’d have been great books.
Isle of the Cross by Herman Melville
Herman Melville submitted Isle of the Cross to his publisher in 1853, two years after the publication of Moby Dick. It was based on a story Melville had come across while vacationing, about a woman abandoned by her sailor husband. Scholars agree that Melville had completed the work, but Harper and Brothers opted not to print it. The strange thing here is that the manuscript seemed to disappear completely after this. Did Melville destroy it? Did the publisher lose it? We’ll simply never know.
Falcon Yard and Double Exposure by Sylvia Plath
While The Bell Jar remains Plath’s only published novel, her personal papers reference at least two other fiction manuscripts which were never published. The first is Falcon Yard, based on the early years of her relationship with husband and poet Ted Hughes. Plath began work on this story before The Bell Jar, returning to it after her debut’s publication in 1963. But her second work of fiction never reached readers. Shortly after she’d resumed work on the book, Plath learned that her husband was having an affair. In response, Plath abandoned the story altogether and decided to burn the manuscript.
Plath’s second lost novel, Double Exposure, was another semiautobiographical novel. This time, she based the story on her husband’s infidelity and the collapse of their marriage. The author didn’t destroy this one, though. Instead, it’s believed that Hughes got rid of the manuscript following Plath’s death — though he claimed that Plath’s mother was the one who’d been in possession of the work. Regardless, the full manuscript has never resurfaced.
Untitled by Emily Brontë
Disclaimer: There’s little historical evidence that this “lost” novel ever existed. Rumor of the work is based entirely on a letter Emily Brontë (writing under the name Ellis Bell) received from her Wuthering Heights publisher, Thomas Cautley Newby, in 1848. The contents of the letter suggest that Brontë was about to begin or had already begun work on a second novel, though Newby urged her not to rush it. We don’t know the nature of the book or whether she ever finished it, but since Emily was the only Brontë sister to publish just one novel — and a haunting one, at that — we can’t help but wonder what this work would have been like.
Technically, yes, Save Me the Waltz was published in 1932. It’s still in print and it’s easily accessible. But the question is whether Zelda’s original manuscript was ever published in the form it was created.
Some experts claim that Zelda’s husband and fellow writer, F. Scott Fitzgerald, made minimal changes the work, while other scholars say that Scott stole passages for his own book, Tender Is the Night — leaving her manuscript a remnant of its former self. Save Me the Waltz was panned by critics and Zelda never wrote another book. So, did Zelda publish the novel she wanted to publish? Though Zelda kept a journal and wrote plenty of letters, it is impossible to tell exactly how much of Save Me The Waltz is the book she’d originally set out to write or if it was published piecemeal in her husband’s works.
Memoirs by Lord Byron
During his lifetime and long after his death, Lord Byron maintained a reputation of being a strong personality clothed in scandal. His memoirs, surely, would have given us all the sordid details… but unfortunately we’ll never see get the chance to read them. When Byron died in 1824 at the age of 36, his publisher burned the memoirs — every last page. While a few of the writer’s friends did in fact read the manuscript, none of them ever wrote about what they’d seen in great detail. As for the publisher, the editors did what they thought was best. They were certain that Byron’s confessions would sully his reputation. One can only imagine how obscene the work must have been if there was concern that the memoirs would negatively impact the memory of a poet who had already achieved infamy among his peers. What could he have possibly written? And how much of it do we already know from myth?