Monday, November 11, 2013

One Book is as One Book Does

John W. Howell gives us a look at authors who we wish would have published more books.

One Book is as One Book Does
By John W. Howell

I was doing some research on authors who published only one book and was trying to understand some of the reasons why writers with obvious talent did not continue on to the second. The list of those who only completed one book is fairly extensive. Goodreads has a list of over fifty. I think it must be added that the books that appear on the list is a fairly impressive set of good literature. I have enjoyed a number of these authors, but not because they only wrote one book, but because the book they wrote was so outstanding. Here is a list of ten well-known: This list is courtesy of the On Line Degree Program and was published in 2010 at There are other lists (I mentioned Goodreads but this one seemed pretty complete and brief. No need for a Tome Blog)

Harper Lee To Kill a Mockingbird
Ralph Ellison Invisible Man
Boris Pasternak Dr. Zhivago
Margaret Mitchell Gone With the Wind
Emily Brontë Wuthering Heights
Anna Sewell Black Beauty
Oscar Wilde The Picture of Dorian Gray
John Kennedy Toole A Confederacy of Dunces
Sylvia Plath The Bell Jar
Arundhati Roy The God of Small Things

In looking at each author more closely, the reasons are as varied as the stories; Harper Lee was not interested in writing a new book. Ralph Ellison worked on a new book but at 2000 pages it just never gelled for him and after he died the book was edited, published and titled Juneteenth. Boris Pasternak was a poet and died of lung cancer two years after Dr. Zhivago was published. Margaret Mitchell was killed crossing the street. Emily Brontë died of tuberculosis at the age of thirty-one. Anna Sewell started the book at age fifty-one and died of Hepatitis five months after Black Beauty was published. Oscar Wilde was a poet and playwright and never wrote another novel. John Kennedy Toole took his own life and never got his book published while he lived. Sylva Plath took her own life after a series of emotional problems. Last but not least; Arundhati Roy has been working on screenplays and began another fictional novel in 2007. She has been very active in non-fiction and has published a number of political observations that have carried much controversy.

It appears that the main reason for not publishing another fiction book; the author passed away. So for the lack of longevity, the temporal world has not benefited from additional good works from this group. Perhaps the spiritual world has been so blessed.

John Howell writes a three times a week blog at http:/ His e-mail address is: John writes fictional short stories and novels. His debut novel My GRL will be published by Martin Sisters Publishing.

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