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.
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|
|Murray, AndrewAndrew Murray||English||9 May 1828||18 January 1917||1907||1966||240||Mostly Christian devotional books.|
|Ibn ul Arabi, Muhammad MuhiyyudinMuhammad Muhiyyudin Ibn ul Arabi||Arabic||26 July 1165||8 November 1240||240||Mystical Islamic Books e.g. A 7 volume Futuhat e Makkiya|
|Suyuti, JallaludinJallaludin Suyuti||Arabic||1445||1505||700||Islamic Ideological Books, Fiqh, Sufism and Tafseer Works including a six volume Tafseer and a three volume tafseer|
|Hamid Al Ghazali, AbuAbu Hamid Al Ghazali||Arabic||1058||1111||200||Fiqh, Sufism and Tafseer|
|Brooks, Edwy S.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.|
|Asimov, IsaacIsaac Asimov
|English||2 January 1920a||6 April 1992||506||Published in 9 of the 10 Dewey Decimal System categories|
|Appel, Jacob M.Jacob M. Appel
||English||21 February 1973||Living||1998||200+||Has also received 21,000 rejection letters.|
|Goldish, MeishMeish Goldish||English||Unknown||Living||1989?||300+||Mostly books for schoolchildren|
|Bakin, KyokuteiKyokutei Bakin||Japanese||4 July 1767||1 December 1848||470|
|Bloom, UrsulaUrsula Bloom||English||1892||1984||1922||500+|
|Blyton, EnidEnid Blyton
|English||11 August 1897||28 November 1968||600~|
|Cartland, BarbaraBarbara Cartland
|English||9 July 1901||21 May 2000||1923||722||Holds the Guinness World Record for the most novels (23) written in a single year|
|Creasey, JohnJohn Creasey||English||17 September 1908||9 June 1973||600+||More than 10 pseudonyms|
|Dicks, TerranceTerrance Dicks||English||10 May 1935||Living[update]||1974||666||Mainly children's books. Includes 75+ based on the television series Doctor Who, of which he was a former script editor.|
|Dontsova, DaryaDarya Dontsova||Russian||7 June 1952||Living[update]||140+||A bestselling Russian author of detective novels and kitchen books.|
|Dumas, AlexandreAlexandre Dumas||French||24 July 1802||5 December 1870||277|
|Garis, Howard R.Howard R. Garis
||English||25 April 1873||6 November 1962||500+||Member of the Stratemeyer Syndicate|
|Garvice, CharlesCharles Garvice
||English||24 August 1850||1 March 1920||150+|
|Hamilton, CharlesCharles Hamilton
|English||8 August 1876||24 December 1961||1894||1961||1200||Estimated to have written 100,000,000 words using around 20 pseudonyms, equivalent to 1,200 novels|
|Ingraham, PrentissPrentiss Ingraham||English||28 December 1843||16 August 1904||1000+||Wrote around 600 novels and 400 novelettes|
|Iorga, NicolaeNicolae Iorga||Romanian etc.||17 January 1871||27 November 1940||1886~||1940||1359||Another count has "1300 volumes and 25000 articles"|
|Kalmuczak, RolfRolf Kalmuczak||German||17 April 1938||10 March 2007||2900+||More than 100 pseudonyms|
|Kraszewski, Józef IgnacyJózef Ignacy Kraszewski||Polish||28 February 1812||1887||350+||200+ novels and 150 novellas, short stories, and art reviews|
|Lindsay, KathleenKathleen Lindsay||English||1903||1973||900+||11 pseudonyms|
|Little, PaulPaul Little||English||1915||1987||700+||Many pseudonyms|
|Meade, L. T.L. T. Meade||English||1854||1914||300+|
|Neusner, JacobJacob Neusner
|English||28 July 1932||Living[update]||1962||950+|
|Paine, LauranLauran Paine||English||25 February 1916||2003||900+|
|Roberts, NoraNora Roberts||English||10 October 1950||Living[update]||1981||(Active)||200+||Romance novels, published under at least four different names|
|Sadoveanu, MihailMihail Sadoveanu||Romanian||5 November 1880||19 October 1961||1904||1952||120||The count covers novels and short story collections|
|Shirazi, MohammadMohammad Shirazi||Arabic and Persian||1928||2001||1953~||2001||1061||He made contributions in various fields ranging from jurisprudence and theology to politics, economics, law, sociology and human rights.|
|Simenon, GeorgesGeorges Simenon||French||13 February 1903||4 September 1989||1921||500+|
|Stine, R. L.R. L. Stine||English||8 October 1943||Living[update]||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.|
|Swan, Annie ShepherdAnnie Shepherd Swan||English||8 July 1859||17 June 1943||1878||1943||200+||Wrote novels, serials, short stories and other works of fiction|
|Tellado, CorínCorín Tellado||Spanish||25 April 1927||11 April 2009||1946||4000+||Wrote over 4000 novellas|
|Pathak, Surender MohanSurender 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 being published in 1959 at the age of 19.|
|Vega, Lope deLope de Vega||Spanish||25 November 1562||27 August 1635||2200~||Playwright|
|Inoue, RyokiRyoki 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.<http://www.ryoki.com.br/tudosobre.htm>|
|Xavier, ChicoChico Xavier||Portuguese||2 April 1910||30 June 2002||1932||450+||Brazilian spiritist medium whose works are attributed to be psycographies written by spirits.|
- 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
- Ned Buntline
- Evelyn Everett-Green
- 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
- 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. Accessed 22 September 2011.
- 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.
- Andrew Murray (minister).
- Seiler, Edward. A List of Isaac Asimov's Books. Accessed 22 September 2011.
- Japan's first professional writer. National Diet Library. Accessed 22 September 2011.
- Ursula Bloom. Shropshire Council. 5 October 2009. Accessed 22 September 2011.
- John Creasey. Owantonna Media. Accessed 22 September 2011.
- Official bibliography (in Russian)
- Laura Sewell Matter, "Pursuing The Great Bad Novelist", Georgia Review, Fall 2007
- Lofts, W.O.. Adley, D.J.. The Men behind Boys' Fiction. Howard Baker, London. 1970. pp. 170. Online excerpt.
- Hill, Charlie. Col. Prentiss Ingraham, Mississippi Writers. Accessed 23 September 2011.
- 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).
- "Wir trauern um Rolf Kalmuczak" (in German). Random House / cbj. 13 March 2007. Retrieved 27 February 2012. Obituary by Kalmuczak's German publisher
- "Rolf Kalmuczak". German National Library catalogue (in German). Retrieved 27 February 2012.
- Heise, Kenan (23 June 1987). "Paul Little, 72, Author of More Than 700 Novels". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 28 April 2012.
- Varner, Paul. Historical Dictionary of Westerns in Literature. Scarecrow Press. 2010.
- Clark, Blanche (30 November 2010), "'The $60 million woman'", Herald Sun, retrieved 6 December 2010
- Books: Rural Life in Ruritania. Time. 22 June 1962. Accessed 25 September 2011.
- Full List of Mohammad Shirazi's books.
- R. L. Stine, Ohio Reading Road Trip (Greater Dayton Public Television, 2004). Accessed 25 September 2011.
- 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
- Sutherland, John. The Stanford Companion to Victorian Fiction. Stanford, California: Stanford University Press, 1990. ISBN 0-8047-1842-3 (pg. 200–201)
- 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
- 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
- Bollywood’s functioning is authoritarian: Surendra Mohan Pathak. DNA (daily newspaper). 22 May 2010. Accessed 04 January 2015.
- Warner, Charles Dudley. A Library of the World's Best Literature – Ancient and Modern – Vol.XXXVIII (Forty-Five Volumes); Vazoff-Wesley. Cosimo, Inc., 2008.