11 Literary Geniuses Who Wrote Only One Novel, But The Novels Were Enough To Immortalize Them

There are many authors who write books after books before their work is finally recognized, but on the other hand, we also have some authors, who have created a special place in our hearts with just one book.

Here are some of the famous authors, you won’t believe have written just one novel in their entire lifetime.

1. Boris Pasternak – Dr. Zhivago

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Boris Pasternak might be one of the greatest poets of the 20th century but you might be surprised to know that he has written just one novel in his entire lifetime. It too would not have seen the light of the day if the manuscript was not smuggled out of Russia and published abroad.

Unfortunately, Pasternak died two years later of lung cancer, never completing another novel.

2. Margaret Mitchell – Gone With the Wind

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This is hardly anyone who has not heard about this iconic novel. Interestingly, this remains her only published work. Ironically, it was after one of her colleagues told her that she is not capable of writing a novel that eventually forced her to send her manuscript to the publishers.

The book was later made into a film, which is now considered as one of the most loved films of all times. Sadly, Mitchell could not churn out another book for us as she met an untimely end in a tragic car accident.

3. Emily Brontë – Wuthering Heights

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Wuthering Heights is one of our most beloved love stories. Emily Bronte is a name that every student of literature is aware of. While Bronte also wrote poetry, Wuthering Heights is her only published book.

You might be a little shocked to know that when this classic was first published it was met with a lot of negative criticisms. We still don’t know the real reason why Emily never penned another novel but her poor health and the negative reviews of her only published seems to be the only reason behind her decision.

4. Anna Sewell – Black Beauty

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Anna Sewell story is unique. She never intended to become an author. It wasn’t until the age of 51, that she began writing the classic. She was motivated by the need to create a work that encouraged people to treat horses with more care and love.

She took six long years to finally complete the book. It became an instant best-seller but she was not able to enjoy the popularity for long as she died from hepatitis just five months after the book was published.

5. Oscar Wilde – The Picture of Dorian Gray

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This might come as a shock to you. Though Oscar Wilde was an extremely successful playwright, but in his entire life, he just wrote one novel.

His novel was considered a bit racy for the then Victorian society. Although the work is today is considered as a classic, back then the book was criticized for its homoerotic and hedonistic undertones.

6. John Kennedy Toole – A Confederacy of Dunces

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John Kennedy Toole got his recognition only posthumously. When he was alive, Toole tried a number of times to get his work published but all the publishers rejected his work. Toole quit his job and descended into a deep depression, eventually committing suicide in 1969.

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It was almost 10 years after his death his work was finally published and was awarded the Pulitzer Prize posthumously.

7. Sylvia Plath – The Bell Jar

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Sylvis Plath is often considered as the most prominent figures of modern English literature. Although Plath wrote a number of poems but in her entire lifetime, she just wrote one novel.

Plath’s novel is considered her masterpiece. Unfortunately, throughout her life, she suffered from bipolar depression, a condition made worse by an unfaithful husband and a miscarriage. She died by suicide just months after the publication of her only novel.

8. Arundhati Roy – The God of Small Things

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If you have some idea about Indian authors writing in English then it is not possible that you do not know her. She is one of the most prominent literary figures in India. Surprisingly, though she has written many essays and non-fiction books but she is yet to pen another novel.

It’s been more than a decade since her last novel and we do not see any sign of an another novel anytime soon from the former Booker Prize winner.

9. Ross Lockridge Jr – The Raintree Country

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The Raintree Country is a book that has enjoyed massive critical and commercial success. The book is often considered one of the greatest American novels. The book also topped The New York Times Best Seller list and was adapted into a film in 1957.

Unfortunately, Lockbridge could not give us any other work, as he suffered from depression and died by suicide just three months after the novel’s publication.

10. Giuseppe di Lampedusa – The Leopard

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The Leopard finally saw the light of day almost a year after Lampedusa’s death. It quickly became the best-selling novel in Italian history and is still considered one of the most important works of modern literature, but its posthumous publication means we’ll never know if Lampedusa could have written anything half as good again.

11. J. D. Salinger – Catcher in the Rye

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J.D. Salinger had a few short stories published in The New Yorker before garnering instant fame with his first and only novel The Catcher in the Rye in 1951. However, after the success of the novel, Salinger did not publish any other novel. Thus, making the classic his only existing novel.

Truth to be told, though these authors wrote only one book, but that book sure left a major impression on us.

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