Sunday, June 8, 2014


In his memoir On Writing, Stephen King commented on how he was considered to be prolific despite having written “only” a few dozen novels to date (this was back in 2000). Yet he contended he was nothing compared to a British mystery novelist named John Creasey, who wrote more than five hundred novels under ten different names. On the other hand, some renowned novelists have written fewer than five books in a career. “Which is okay,” King stated, “but I always wonder two things about these folks: how long did it take them to write the books they did write, and what did they do with the rest of their time?”

Well, here are the 17 writers who are to “prolific” what King is to “horror.” In fact, King isn’t even close to making this list. But Creasey? He’s ninth.

1. Spanish writer Corin Tellado (her real name was Maria del Socorro Tellado Lopez) lived from 1927 to 2009 and published more than 4,000—yes four thousand—novels. She sold more than 400 million of them.

2. Brazilian author Ryoki Inoue is a thoracic surgeon. He also… er, dabbles in Portuguese-language pulp fiction—to the tune of nearly 1,100 books. And he’s still writing.

3. Kathleen Lindsay was an English romance writer with as at least 11 pen names. She died in 1973 (at the age of 70) having written more than 900 books.

4. Seventy books would constitute a prolific career. Lauran Bosworth Paine had 70 different pen names. He wrote mostly Western fiction. Lots of it. More than 850 books.

5. Enid Mary Blyton was an English writer of children’s books who died in 1968. Her work has been translated into almost 90 languages, and she wrote more than 800 books, generating more total sales than J.K. Rowling.

6. Whether writing as Barbara Cartland or Barbara McCorquodale, whether writing cook books or health books or historical fiction, she was most certainly writing. She lived 99 years (until 2000) and wrote 723 books.

7. Jozef Ignacy Kraszewski was a 19th century Polish writer of everything from novels and biographies to plays and poetry, totaling in excess of 600 books.

8. A former Confederate soldier named Prentiss Ingraham wrote more than 600 dime novels. He was best known for his Buffalo Bill series.

9. Finally, we get to John Creasey. The story goes that John Creasey received 768 rejection letters before his first book was published. Then he went on to write nearly that many books—more than 600, actually—under 28 pseudonyms. That includes Westerns under names like Tex Riley and Ken Range—and even romance novels as Margaret Cooke.

10. Religious scholar and teacher Jalaluddin Al-Suyuti is believed to have written more than 550 books, primarily during the 15th century in Egypt.

11. Georges Joseph Christian Simenon was born in 1903. He died in 1989. In between, the Belgian author wrote nearly 200 novels under his own name and 300-plus under more than a dozen pen names.

12. In 1994, Harold Bloom published The Western Canon, focusing on 26 major literary works over the previous six centuries that he considered most sublime and representative of their nations. Ursula Bloom (1892-1984) wasn’t close to making the cut. But the English romance novelist wrote more than 520 books.

13. Howard Roger Garis, who died in 1962, was best known for a series of books featuring an elderly rabbit called Uncle Wiggily Longears. He wrote more than 500 books in all. Rabbits multiply.

14. Japanese novelist Jiro Akagawa has written close to 500 novels over his 30-year career, many of them humorous mysteries. And he’s still going.

15. Acclaimed sci-fi novelist Isaac Asimov published at least 468 books before dying in 1992 from an HIV infection caused by a blood transfusion. He also wrote an estimated 90,000 letters and postcards. Another fascinating factoid: His books have been published in all but one of the ten major categories of the Dewey Decimal Classification.

16. The master of the macabre for the mini-set, R.L. Stine has written close to 450 books, mostly horror fiction novels in the Goosebumps, Rotten School, Fear Street, Mostly Ghostly and The Nightmare Room series. So far.

17. He was the American founder of the syndicate that published the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew series (among other books for children), but Edward Stratemeyer also used various pseudonyms to write more than 400 novels himself.


  1. What about Rolf Kalmuczak?

  2. I struggle to write even one book. WTF am I doing wrong...

  3. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  4. Muhammad Tahir ul Qadri - 1000 books

  5. Replies
    1. Great authors both, but not in great quantity. Clarke c.100 books. Bear c. 45

  6. wow, I've written over 500 books but finding a publisher is a nightmare. How'd they do it?

    1. Probably overthinking it. I was guilty of that for years. You've likely invested too much of yourself into that first book and not enough into the 11th, or the 21st. Outlining is important for most writers — not all — and if you struggle to write and don't outline, then try learning to love outlining. In the end, perfectionism is a killer.

      The book 'The Seven Secrets of the Prolific' by Hillary Rettig was an eye-opener for me, though it was still a couple years before I figure out how to incorporate all of it.

      In the end: (1) don't give up (2) be willing to write badly; writing is rewriting (3) think about what it means to structure and outline; what is prewriting?

  7. Origen of Alexandria- over 6,000 works

  8. Good writers have better things to do than churn out books.

    1. Sometimes the two coincide. Asimov, for example, was named a Grand Master of science fiction writing, widely acknowledged as one of the greatest in the genre of the 20th century. He was also an award winning mystery short story writer, and wrote excellent works on science for the layman. He didn't do much of anything but write, he typed 90 words a minute, and he could see it all in his head from the start.

  9. How fast do these people write???

    1. About Barbara Cartland, I read in an interview that at a certain point she used to write a book per week.