Bella J Dark split image

At the age of 5 years 211 days, Bella J Dark from Weymouth, UK has become the world’s youngest person to publish a book (female).

Titled The Lost Cat, Bella’s book tells the tale of Snowy, a cat who gets lost after venturing outside alone at night.

The Lost Cat was published on 31 January 2022 by Ginger Fyre Press and has since sold over 1,000 copies. It is available at Waterstones and Amazon for £6 ($7.27).

The record was previously held by Dorothy Straight (b. 25 May 1958), who was six years old when her book How the World Began was published by Pantheon Books in August 1964.

Bella Dark holding The Lost Cat book

Bella revealed that she got the idea for The Lost Cat from one of her drawings.

“It started off as a picture. My daddy said I could make a book and a story came from the picture.”

According to her mother, 27-year-old Chelsie Syme, Bella has always had a great imagination and has been writing short stories “from as young as three.”

Thus, it didn’t come as much of a surprise when Bella said she was going to write a book.

“I wanted to be an author and I like drawing and writing.” – Bella J Dark

Bella spent “about five days” writing the entire story. She also illustrated the book by herself (with the exception of one picture at the end drawn by older sister Lacie May).

Bella hopes her book will “teach children not to go outside on their own at night time.”

Bella Dark writing

In order to be eligible for this Guinness World Records title, the book must be published by a commercial publishing house and at least 1,000 copies must be printed and sold.

After meeting an interested publisher at a book fair, Chelsie assisted Bella with tasks such as “dealing with proof copies and things being changed.”

“I was happy for her and I just love getting involved and giving attention and praise to everything she does,” Chelsie said.

The mother-daughter duo's hard work was eventually rewarded when they saw the sales figures and Bella was officially confirmed as the world's youngest published author.

“It has been such an exciting journey so far and her dad and I are over the moon she has been awarded this as it is the least she deserves.” – Chelsie Syme

The Lost Cat cover

Bella was inspired by some of her favourite books such as What the Ladybird Heard, Splat the Cat and Diary of a Wimpy Kid.

Just as Bella was influenced by these books, she hopes that other young writers will take inspiration from The Lost Cat.

Her advice to aspiring authors is to “write a story that comes from you.”

When she’s not writing, Bella enjoys reading, swimming, playing ‘teachers’ and playing on her tablet.

With a sequel to Snowy’s story already in the works, we can't wait to read Bella’s next book!

Bella Dark smiling

The youngest person to publish a book (male) is Thanuwana Serasinghe (Sri Lanka), who was 4 years 356 days old when his book Junk Food was released on 5 January 2017.