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. Dame Agatha Christie, the most-published novelist in history, is estimated to have sold 4 billion books, having written 69 novels and 19 plays. Her works were published between 1920 and 1976, equating to around three publications every two years. Dame 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. 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.
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 L. 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.
Most authors carefully craft their work, writing and rewriting several times before publication. Some authors simply use pen and paper, while others such as Isaac Asimov spent hours at a stretch working at a typewriter. 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 Amazon.com, having developed an algorithm to gather publicly available data and compile it into book form. The computer-generated nature of the books is not detailed on the sales page and the books are printed only when ordered.
|Name||Language||Birth||Death||First publication||Last publication||Published works||Notes|
|Corín Tellado||Spanish||25 April 1927||11 April 2009||1946||2006||4000+||She wrote over 4000 novellas and magazine's short stories. She was listed in the 1994 Guinness World Records as having sold the most books written in Spanish, and earlier in 1962 UNESCO declared her the most read Spanish writer after Miguel de Cervantes.|
|Warren Murphy||English||13 September 1933||4 September 2015||107+||He co-authored (with Richard Sapir) wrote over 100 novels in "The Destroyer" Series. It centered on a US Secret Agency, called "The Cure" and their agent, a martial artist named Remo Williams. Most novels were social commentary. After Murphy and Sapir dies, ghost writers contiuned the series. Over 150 novels were written, not including the movie script, entitled "Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins".|
|Rolf Kalmuczak||German||17 April 1938||10 March 2007||2900+||More than 100 pseudonyms|
|Lope de Vega||Spanish||25 November 1562||27 August 1635||2200~||Playwright|
|François-Marie Arouet (Voltaire)||French||21 November 1694||30 May 1778||1718||1778||2000+||Voltaire was a versatile and prolific writer, producing works in almost every literary form, including plays, poems, novels, essays and historical and scientific works. He wrote more than 20,000 letters and more than 2,000 books and pamphlets.|
|Nicolae Iorga||Romanian etc.||17 January 1871||27 November 1940||1886~||1940||1,359||Another count has "1300 volumes and 25000 articles"|
|Mohammad Shirazi||Arabic and Persian||1928||2001||1953~||2001||1,300||He made contributions in various fields ranging from jurisprudence and theology to politics, economics, law, sociology and human rights.|
|English||8 August 1876||24 December 1961||1894||1961||1,200||Estimated to have written 100,000,000 words using around 20 pseudonyms, primarily for boys' weekly magazines, including public-school stories|
|L. Ron Hubbard||English||13 March 1911||24 January 1986||1934||1987||1,084||Science fiction, adventure, westerns, mystery, religion.|
|Ryoki Inoue||Portuguese||22 July 1946||Living[update]||1986||1000+||Brazilian surgeon turned pulp novel author, acknowledged by Guinness as world's most prolific writer. Wrote almost a thousand novels in 6 years, under his own name or 39 pseudonyms.|
|Manuel Jacinto Coelho||Portuguese||30 December 1903||13 January 1991||1935||1991||1,000||Brazilian leader of a religion called Cultura Racional ("Rational Culture"). For 56 years, he wrote a one-thousand-volume encyclopedia called Universo em Desencanto ("Disenchanting Universe"), which covers a very wide range of subjects.|
|Prentiss Ingraham||English||28 December 1843||16 August 1904||1,000||Wrote around 600 novels and 400 novelettes|
|Antonio Vera Ramírez||Spanish||2 July 1934||1958||1,000||He wrote 500 novels in Brigitte Montford Series and other 500 novels by other genders.|
|English||28 July 1932||8 October 2016||1962||950+|
|Lauran Paine||English||25 February 1916||1 December 2001||900+|
|Kathleen Lindsay||English||1903||1973||900+||11 pseudonyms|
|Ishtiaq Ahmed||Urdu||1944||17 November 2015||1972||Continuous||800+||Spy thriller crime series|
|Edwy S. Brooks||English||11 November 1889||2 December 1965||1907||1966||800+||Brooks published his first short story, in July 1907, when he was seventeen.|
|Enid Blyton||English||11 August 1897||28 November 1968||1922||1968||762||Children's literature, adventure, mystery, fantasy.|
||Hungarian||8 November 1944||Living||1974||732||Science fiction, crime, historical, mystery, romance, and more.|
|English||9 July 1901||21 May 2000||1923||722||Holds the Guinness World Record for the most novels (23) written in a single year|
|Paul Little||English||1915||1987||700+||Many pseudonyms|
|Jallaludin Suyuti||Arabic||1445||1505||700||Islamic Ideological Books, Fiqh, Sufism and Tafseer Works including a six volume Tafseer and a three volume tafseer|
|John Creasey||English||17 September 1908||9 June 1973||600+||More than 10 pseudonyms|
|English||2 January 1920a||6 April 1992||506 plus The Return of the Black Widowers||Published in 9 of the 10 Dewey Decimal System categories|
|Howard R. Garis
||English||25 April 1873||6 November 1962||500+||Member of the Stratemeyer Syndicate|
|Georges Simenon||French||13 February 1903||4 September 1989||1921||500+|
|Chico Xavier||Portuguese||2 April 1910||30 June 2002||1932||500+||Brazilian spiritist medium whose works are attributed to be psycographies written by spirits. He wrote over 500 books in many different areas of knowledge.|
|Kyokutei Bakin||Japanese||4 July 1767||1 December 1848||470|
|Józef Ignacy Kraszewski||Polish||28 February 1812||1887||350+||200+ novels and 150 novellas, short stories, and art reviews|
|R. L. Stine||English||8 October 1943||Living[update]||1992||330+ ||The best-selling children's author of all time as of 2004, Stine estimates that he has over 330 children's books, including the Goosebumps and Fear Street series. At one time he produced one book a month for each of those series. Stine has also written many books under the pseudonyms Jovial Bob Stine and Eric Affabee.|
|L. T. Meade||English||1854||1914||300+|
|Meish Goldish||English||Unknown||Living||1989?||300+||Mostly books for schoolchildren|
|Alexandre Dumas||French||24 July 1802||5 December 1870||277|
|Surender Mohan Pathak||Hindi||19 February 1940||Living[update]||1959||250+||Wrote over 250 novellas in crime fiction in India. He is known as a Grand Master of Hindi crime fiction. He has been writing for almost 50 years; his first short story was published in 1959 at the age of 19.|
|Muhammad Muhiyyudin Ibn ul Arabi||Arabic||26 July 1165||8 November 1240||240||Mystical Islamic Books e.g. A 7 volume Futuhat e Makkiya|
|Andrew Murray||English||9 May 1828||18 January 1917||1907||1966||240||Mostly Christian devotional books.|
|Wolfgang Hohlbein||German||15 August 1953||Living[update]||1982||(Active)||220+||Fantasy novels|
|Terrance Dicks||English||10 May 1935||29 August 2019||1974||223||Mainly children's books. Includes 75+ based on the television series Doctor Who, for which he was a former script editor.|
|Jacob M. Appel
||English||21 February 1973||Living||1998||200+||Has also received 21,000 rejection letters.|
|Annie Shepherd Swan||English||8 July 1859||17 June 1943||1878||1943||200+||Wrote novels, serials, short stories and other works of fiction|
|Nora Roberts||English||10 October 1950||Living[update]||1981||(Active)||200+||Romance novels, published under at least four different names|
|Abu Hamid Al Ghazali||Arabic||1058||1111||200||Fiqh, Sufism and Tafseer|
||English||24 August 1850||1 March 1920||150+|
|Darya Dontsova||Russian||7 June 1952||Living[update]||140+||A bestselling Russian author of detective novels and kitchen books.|
|Dr. Krishna N. Sharma||English and Hindi||24 December 1984||Living||2005||(Active)||132 as of 2017||He writes books on health, medicine, music and literature.|
|Mihail Sadoveanu||Romanian||5 November 1880||19 October 1961||1904||1952||120||The count covers novels and short story collections|
- 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
- John Neal is known by historians and was famous in his day for the speed with which he wrote: 6 novels published in 8 years (1817-1825) while engaged in law study, law practice, and making prolific contributions to various magazines, 4 of those novels being published within 2 years (1822-1823): 680 pages in 6–8 weeks, 685 pages in 36 days, 689 pages in 39 days, and 328 pages in 27 days.
- Augustine of Hippo wrote over five million words.
- Lin Ching-hsuan claimed that he wrote more than 170 books and had 298 publications.
- Ni Kuang has written over 300 Chinese-language wuxia and science fiction novels, and more than 400 film scripts.
- Zhang Henshui published more than 100 novels in his 50 years of fiction writing.
- Evelyn Everett-Green wrote about 350 books: more than 200 of them under her own name, and others using pen names.
- Sophocles – wrote 123 plays of which only 7 survive today
- Leibniz about 15,000 letters to more than 1000 recipients plus more than 40,000 other items
- Bertrand Russell over 30,000 letters, thousands of articles published in nearly 100 books
- Robert Boyle no complete count, but an incomplete subset filled a huge 14 volume hardback bound compilation set in 2000
- Elizabeth Linington at 80 books under 4 names, also considered a prolific writer
- H.P. Lovecraft over 100,000 letters, some of them up to 70 pages in length.
- Charles Wesley wrote over 6,000 hymns.
- H. G. Wells can be considered a prolific writer.
- Noam Chomsky is the author of over 100 books on many topics.
- Gene Wolfe is a prolific short-story writer and novelist.
- Napoléon I, Emperor of the French, wrote more than 40 000 letters; published from 2004 to 2018 in 15 volumes.
- Fleming, Michael. Agatha Christie gets a clue for filmmakers. Variety. 14 February 2000. Accessed 23 September 2011.
- Womack, Philip. Being a prolific author isn't a bad thing. The Telegraph. 25 October 2010. Accessed 22 September 2010.
- "Corín Tellado: Spanish romantic writer". The Sunday Times. 18 April 2009. Archived from the original on 24 May 2010. Retrieved 20 January 2017.(subscription required)
- Woodmansee, Martha. Osteen, Mark. The new economic criticism: studies at the intersection of literature and economics. Routledge. 1999. p. 11.
- Nichols, Lewis. Isaac Asimov: Man of 7,560,000 Words. The New York Times. 3 August 1969. Accessed 22 September 2011.
- 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.
- Rosen, Judith. David Slavitt Joins the 100 Club at 76. 29 August 2011. Accessed 23 September 2011.
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- Warner, Charles Dudley (2008). A Library of the World's Best Literature – Ancient and Modern, Volume XXXVIII: Vazoff-Wesley. Cosimo, Inc.
- Iova, Victor. N. Iorga: Istoria lui Mihai Viteazul (I): "Tabel cronologic". Bucharest: Editura Minerva. 1979 (pg. xxxiv).
- Veiga, Francisco. Istoria Gărzii de Fier, 1919–1941: Mistica ultranaţionalismului. Bucharest: Humanitas. 1993 (pg. 69).
- Lofts, W.O.; Adley, D.J. (1970). The Men behind Boys' Fiction. London: Howard Baker. p. 170.
- Bahé, Vanessa (14 November 2011). "Erro pode ter dado recorde a escritor Ryoki, que lança livro em Olinda: Médico brasileiro conta que correu para não perder prazo de contratos. Atualmente, ele contabiliza 1.104 livros publicados" [Error may have given record the writer Ryoki, who launches a book in Olinda: Brazilian doctor tells that he ran not to lose contract deadline. He currently counts 1,104 published books.]. G1 (in Portuguese). Globo Comunicação e Participações S.A.
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