List of prolific writers

List of prolific writers

Some writers have had prolific careers with hundreds of their works being published. While some best-selling authors have written a small number of books that have sold millions of copies, others have had lengthy careers and maintained a high level of output year after year. Agatha Christie, the most published novelist in history, is estimated to have sold 4 billion books, having written 69 novels and 19 plays.[1] Her works were published between 1920 and 1976, equating to around three publications every two years. Barbara Cartland has also sold millions of copies of her books but wrote many more than Christie. She spent 80 years as a novelist with 722 books published, averaging one book released every 40 days of her career.[2] While Cartland wrote a significant number of full-length novels, other authors have been published many more times but have specialised in short stories. Spanish author Corín Tellado wrote over 4,000 novellas, selling 400 million copies of her books.[3]

Not all authors work alone. Groups of writers, sometimes led by one central figure, have published under shared pseudonyms. The Stratemeyer Syndicate, started by Edward Stratemeyer in 1905, created numerous book series including 190 volumes of The Hardy Boys and 175 volumes of Nancy Drew. More than 1,300 books were published by the group, and although Edward Stratemeyer wrote several hundred, he also employed ghostwriters to keep up with the demand. These writers were given storylines and strict guidelines to follow to ensure a level of consistency within each series. Amongst the writing team was Howard R. Garis, who contributed several hundred books to the collection, one of the most active authors. Sales were estimated at over two hundred million copies before the syndicate was sold to Simon & Schuster in 1984.[4]

Authors carefully craft their work, writing and rewriting several times before publication. Some authors use pen and paper, while others such as Isaac Asimov spent hours working at a typewriter.[5] Philip M. Parker, by one measure the world's most prolific author, has an entirely different approach. Parker has over 200,000 titles listed on, having developed an algorithm to gather publicly available data and compile it into book form.[6][7] The computer-generated nature of the books is not detailed on the sales page and the books are printed only when ordered.[6]


Prolific writers

Name Language Birth Death First publication Last publication Published works Notes
Asimov, IsaacIsaac Asimov
English 01920-01-022 January 1920a 01992-04-066 April 1992 !B9937734633307 506[8] Published in nine of the ten major categories of the Dewey Decimal System[9]
Bakin, KyokuteiKyokutei Bakin Japanese 01767-07-044 July 1767 01848-12-011 December 1848 !B9938472673052 470[10]
Bloom, UrsulaUrsula Bloom English 01892 1892 01984 1984 1922 !B9937853919015 500+[11]
Blyton, EnidEnid Blyton
English 01897-08-1111 August 1897 01968-11-2828 November 1968 !B9936030703447 600~[2]
Cartland, BarbaraBarbara Cartland
English 01901-07-099 July 1901 02000-05-2121 May 2000 1923 !B9934179748611 722[2] Holds the Guinness World Record for the most novels (23) written in a single year
Creasey, JohnJohn Creasey English 01908-09-1717 September 1908 01973-06-099 June 1973 !B9936030703447 600+[12] More than 10 pseudonyms
Dumas, AlexandreAlexandre Dumas French 01802-07-2424 July 1802 01870-12-055 December 1870 !B9943759824938 277[2]
Garis, Howard R.Howard R. Garis
English 01873-04-2525 April 1873 01962-11-066 November 1962 !B9937853919015 500+[7] Member of the Stratemeyer Syndicate
Garvice, CharlesCharles Garvice
English 01850-08-2424 August 1850 01920-03-011 March 1920 !B9949893647059 150+[13]
Hamilton, CharlesCharles Hamilton
English 01876-08-088 August 1876 01961-12-2424 December 1961 1894 1961 !B9929099231642 1200 Estimated to have written 100,000,000 words using around 20 pseudonyms, equivalent to 1,200 novels[14]
Ingraham, PrentissPrentiss Ingraham English 01843-12-2828 December 1843 01904-08-1616 August 1904 !B9930922447210 1000+[15] Wrote around 600 novels and 400 novelettes
Iorga, NicolaeNicolae Iorga Romanian etc. 01871-01-1717 January 1871 01940-11-2727 November 1940 1886~ 1940 !B9927854955858 1359[16] Another count has "1300 volumes and 25000 articles"[17]
Kraszewski, Józef IgnacyJózef Ignacy Kraszewski Polish 01812-02-2828 February 1812 1887 !B9941420668455 350+ 200+ novels and 150 novellas, short stories, and art reviews
Lindsay, KathleenKathleen Lindsay English 01903 1903 01973 1973 !B9931976052366 900+[7] 11 pseudonyms[7]
Meade, L. T.L. T. Meade English 01854 1854 01914 1914 !B9942962175253 300+
Paine, LauranLauran Paine English 01916-02-2525 February 1916 2003 !B9931976052366 900+[18]
Roberts, NoraNora Roberts English 01950-10-1010 October 1950 0Error: invalid timeLiving 1981 (Active) !B9947016826334 200+[19] Romance novels, published under at least four different names
Sadoveanu, MihailMihail Sadoveanu Romanian 01880-11-055 November 1880 01961-10-1919 October 1961 1904 1952 !B9952125082572 120[20] The count covers novels and short story collections
Simenon, GeorgesGeorges Simenon French 01903-02-1313 February 1903 01989-09-044 September 1989 1921 !B9937853919015 500+[7]
Swan, Annie ShepherdAnnie Shepherd Swan English 01859-07-088 July 1859 01943-06-1717 June 1943 1878 1943 !B9947016826334 200+[21][22][23][24] Wrote novels, serials, short stories and other works of fiction
Stine, R. L.R. L. Stine English 01943-10-088 October 1943 Living !B9937853919015 Hundreds The best-selling children's author of all time as of 2004, Stine has written hundreds of children's books, including the Goosebumps and Fear Street series. At one time he produced one book a month for each of those series.[25]
Tellado, CorínCorín Tellado Spanish 01927-04-2525 April 1927 02009-04-1111 April 2009 1946 !B9917059503598 4000+[3] Wrote over 4000 novellas
Vega, Lope deLope de Vega Spanish 01562-11-2525 November 1562 01635-08-2727 August 1635 !B9923037873606 2200~[26] Playwright
Authors with more than 100 books are considered for inclusion.
^a Asimov celebrated his birthday on 2 January but his true date of birth is unclear

Other notable writers

See also


  1. ^ Fleming, Michael. Agatha Christie gets a clue for filmmakers. Variety. 14 February 2000. Accessed 23 September 2011.
  2. ^ a b c d e Womack, Philip. Being a prolific author isn't a bad thing. The Telegraph. 25 October 2010. Accessed 22 September 2010.
  3. ^ a b Corín Tellado: Spanish romantic writer. The Sunday Times. 18 April 2009. Accessed 22 September 2011.
  4. ^ Woodmansee, Martha. Osteen, Mark. The new economic criticism: studies at the intersection of literature and economics. Routledge. 1999. p. 11.
  5. ^ Nichols, Lewis. Isaac Asimov: Man of 7,560,000 Words. The New York Times. 3 August 1969. Accessed 22 September 2011.
  6. ^ a b Cohen, Noam. He Wrote 200,000 Books (but Computers Did Some of the Work). The New York Times. 14 April 2008. Accessed 22 September 2011.
  7. ^ a b c d e Rosen, Judith. David Slavitt Joins the 100 Club at 76. 29 August 2011. Accessed 23 September 2011.
  8. ^ Seiler, Edward. A List of Isaac Asimov's Books. Accessed 22 September 2011.
  9. ^ Seiler, Edward. Jenkins, John H. Isaac Asimov FAQ. Isaac Asimov Home Page. 27 June 2008. Accessed 22 September 2011.
  10. ^ Japan's first professional writer. National Diet Library. Accessed 22 September 2011.
  11. ^ Ursula Bloom. Shropshire Council. 5 October 2009. Accessed 22 September 2011.
  12. ^ John Creasey. Owantonna Media. Accessed 22 September 2011.
  13. ^ Laura Sewell Matter, "Pursuing The Great Bad Novelist", Georgia Review, Fall 2007
  14. ^ Lofts, W.O.. Adley, D.J.. The Men behind Boys' Fiction. Howard Baker, London. 1970. pp. 170. Online excerpt.
  15. ^ Hill, Charlie. Col. Prentiss Ingraham, Mississippi Writers. Accessed 23 September 2011.
  16. ^ Iova, Victor. N. Iorga: Istoria lui Mihai Viteazul (I): "Tabel cronologic". Bucharest: Editura Minerva. 1979 (pg. xxxiv).
  17. ^ Veiga, Francisco. Istoria Gărzii de Fier, 1919–1941: Mistica ultranaţionalismului. Bucharest: Humanitas. 1993 (pg. 69).
  18. ^ Varner, Paul. Historical Dictionary of Westerns in Literature. Scarecrow Press. 2010.
  19. ^ Clark, Blanche (November 30, 2010), "'The $60 million woman'", Herald Sun,, retrieved December 6, 2010 
  20. ^ Books: Rural Life in Ruritania. Time. 22 June 1962. Accessed 25 September 2011.
  21. ^ Aitken, William Russell. Scottish Literature in English and Scots: A Guide to Information Sources. Detroit: Gale Research, 1982. (pg. 170) ISBN 0-8103-1249-2
  22. ^ Sutherland, John. The Stanford Companion to Victorian Fiction. Stanford, California: Stanford University Press, 1990. ISBN 0-8047-1842-3 (pg. 200-201)
  23. ^ Varty, Anne, ed. Eve's Century: A Sourcebook of Writings on Women and Journalism, 1895-1918. London and New York: Routledge, 2000. (pg. 254) ISBN 0-415-19544-6
  24. ^ Anderson, Carol and Aileen Christianson. Scottish Women's Fiction, 1920s to 1960s: Journeys Into Being. East Linton, Scotland: Tuckwell Press, 2000. (pg. 165) ISBN 1-86232-082-9
  25. ^ R. L. Stine, Ohio Reading Road Trip (Greater Dayton Public Television, 2004). Accessed 02011-09-2525 September 2011.
  26. ^ Warner, Charles Dudley. A Library of the World's Best Literature - Ancient and Modern - Vol.XXXVIII (Forty-Five Volumes); Vazoff-Wesley. Cosimo, Inc., 2008.

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