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The Top 21 Most Prolific Writers of All Time

Prolific Writers

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Most Prolific Writers in History

Gathering a list of the most prolific writers in history isn't easy, because the way many writers wrote lent itself to putting out a lot of copy without necessarily, in some cases, writing a lot of words.

There is also the difference between writers of fiction versus non-fiction, where non-fiction has to be researched, and usually results in a longer book. We'll look at some of those differences among the prolific authors unveiled in this article.

Another consideration that has to be taken into account was the fact that authors wrote multi-volume novels, which when put together, today would represent one book. So while claims of large numbers of novels were asserted in the past, in reality they were more like sections of one book, or even chapters, rather than a multitude of novels.

That said, the amount of content put out by most of the authors listed in this article is formidable and impressive, even when taking into account some of the caveats mentioned.

Now let's get into these amazing people who appear to have lived to write.

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Corin Tellado (Apr 25, 1927 - Apr 11, 2009)

Probably the undisputed leader of prolific writers is known as Corin Tellado, whose actual name was Maria del Socorro Tellado Lopez. Over 4,000 novels have been attributed to her voluminous output, which resulted in sales of over 400 million books.

The major caveat to take into account with Tellado is she wrote what is called a photonovel, which is at times spelled fotonovel, also called "Fumetti."

A number of Tellado's books were these types of books, which included photos along with word balloons; it was similar to a comic book, with the exception of photos inserted in the frames rather than illustrations.

Another more modern version would be books made with still images of a movie or TV show, such as Star Wars, which also have some commentary with it.

Also, much of Tellado's work was for Latin American magazine Vanidades, for whom she published a new novella on a weekly basis. Looking up her work on Amazon, using a fairly decent sampling, the majority of her books were a little over a hundred pages each, with a few of them over 200 pages.

Even so, by any measure, the amount of work she produced was extraordinary, and she deserves a place at the top of the most prolific writers in history.

She may not have written more words than a few authors, but she definitely wrote the most books.

What is important as well is her work was published. Some lists of prolific authors I researched, included unpublished works as well. I didn't include those among the authors listed in this article.

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Ryoki Inoue (born Jul 22, 1946 ...)

One very impressive thing about Brazilian author Ryoki Inoue is that he is a thoracic surgeon. That means of the more than 1,100 books he's written, he's done while he was also working as a surgeon. He left his practice in 1986 to become a full-time writer.

In the past Inoue was identified by the Guinness World Records as the most prolific writer. He has written under his own name, as well as 39 pseudonyms.

Inoue is known to say that "secret of the creative process is in 98% of sweat, 1% of talent and 1% of luck."

the-most-explosively-prolific-writers-of-all-time

Lauran Bosworth Paine (Feb 25, 1916 - Dec 01, 2001)

Lauran Bosworth Paine, born in Duluth, Minnesota, wrote over 1,000 books, with the bulk of them being Western fiction, although he also wrote mystery novels, romance, and science fiction.

Paine wrote under dozens of pseudonyms, such as Clay Allen, A. A. Andrews, Concho Bradley, Clint O'Conner and Jim Slaughter, among numerous others. The reason for the many pseudonyms was because his publishers only allowed a limited number of books to be written under one name.

I find it interesting that writers like Paine and others listed in this article, wrote more books than the majority of people read in a lifetime.

the-most-explosively-prolific-writers-of-all-time

Jacob Neusner (Jul 28, 1932 - Oct 08, 2016)

Of all the writers usually included in a list of the most prolific, Jacob Neusner is the one that is probably the most neglected. That could possibly be because of the subject matter of his non-fiction books, which are 'centered on rabbinic Judaism of the Mishnaic and Talmudic eras."

Included in his body of work are over 950 books he either wrote, or edited. Looking at his books on Amazon, almost all of it was more than 200 pages in length, and in many cases, over 400 pages. Some I found were over 600 pages long.

The point there is Neusner's longer books would represent four to five books of other writers that wrote novellas a little over 100 pages long, but were included in their list as individual books, which of course they were.

As for the number of words written, Neusner is quite possibly the most prolific writer in history.

An impressive thing to consider is that Neusner wrote all non-fiction, which takes up far more time for research and writing. In other words, the amount of time he spent at his craft was probably much longer than any of his peers.

the-most-explosively-prolific-writers-of-all-time

Kathleen Lindsay (1903-1973)

Kathleen Lindsay is credited with writing over 900 romance novels in her career. She was also, at one time, listed by the Guinness Book of World Records as the most prolific author. In 1986, the Guinness Book of World Records referred to her as Mary Faulkner

Lindsay wrote under eleven pseudonyms, although three of those were under her married name at the time, as she was married three times.

the-most-explosively-prolific-writers-of-all-time

Enid Mary Blyton (11 August 1897 – 28 November 1968)

Next is Enid Mary Blyton, who wrote over 800 children's books. She has reportedly sold more books than J.K. Rowling, although that may have changed by time you're reading this article, as Rowling continues to write.

While dying in 1968 at the age of 71, Blyton's children's stories remain very popular. They have been translated into 90 languages.

the-most-explosively-prolific-writers-of-all-time

Tahir ul Qadri (Born Feb 19, 1951...)

Tahir ul Qadri is the author of over 800 books that have been published, with approximately 200 more in the pipeline. His books are offered in Arabic, English and Urdu.

There are conflicting reports on the number of books Qadri has published, with some saying it's closer to 550, and others a little over 600. Most sources agree his total output of unpublished and published books stands at approximately 1,000.

Similar to Neusner, it's impressive because of the non-fiction segment and the research, study and time needed to write some an enormous body of work.
This is one of the reasons it's hard to accurately identify the most prolific writers in regard to placing them in numerical order.

Many of his books are on the Online Islamic Library.

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Barbara Cartland (Jul 09, 1901 - May 21, 2000)

No list of prolific writers would be complete without the inclusion of Barbara Cartland, who wrote 723 books, most of which, as we know, were romance novels.

Cartland also wrote cook books and books related to health.

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She is credited with selling well over 1 billion books.

the-most-explosively-prolific-writers-of-all-time

Jozef Ignacy Kraszewski (Jul 28, 1812 - Mar 19, 1887)

Jozef Ignacy Kraszewski is credited with writing more than 600 books.

Kraszewski wrote across a variety of genres, including biographies, novels, plays and poetry. As with some of the other authors, there are discrepancies in the number of books he wrote from different sources.

It's harder to confirm his collection of work because he wrote in the 19th century. It's possible some of his short stories and art reviews were counted as full books.

the-most-explosively-prolific-writers-of-all-time

Prentiss Ingraham (December 28, 1843 – August 16, 1904)

Prentiss Ingraham wrote over six hundred novels and four hundred novelettes.

After the American Civil War, Ingraham became a soldier of fortune, which when he began his writing career, became source material for his dime novels.

He also worked as a press agent for the Wild West Show of Buffalo Bill, which helped him when he took over the dime novels associated with Buffalo Bill. He reportedly wrote over 200 stories related to Buffalo Bill.

While immensely popular in his day, Ingraham is largely forgotten in our times.

His work wasn't great, but it targeted a popular audience hungry for stories talking about cowboys and the Western frontier.

the-most-explosively-prolific-writers-of-all-time

John Creasey (17 September 1908 – 9 June 1973)

Interestingly, the legend surrounding the prolific John Creasey is that he had to endure 768 rejection letters before he had his first book approved for publishing.

If true, it didn't deter him, as he went on to write over 600 books in his lifetime, under 28 pseudonyms.

His major focus on was Westerns, but he also wrote some romance novels under the pseudonym of Margaret Cooke.

the-most-explosively-prolific-writers-of-all-time

Robert J. Randisi (Born August 24, 1951...)

Robert J. Randisi is a prolific pulp fiction writer, having published over 500 books and edited 30 anthologies.

The major genres he wrote in are Western and detective.

He's still alive as I write, so he should continue to add to his total.

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Rolf Kalmuczak (Apr 17, 1938 - Mar 10, 2007)

Among the works of Rolf Kalmuczak are 200 novellas, 170 crime novels, 160 books written for young people, and 30 film scripts.

He reportedly used over 100 pseudonyms in his writing career.

the-most-explosively-prolific-writers-of-all-time

Ursula Bloom (11 December 1892 – 29 October 1984)

Ursula Bloom was a prolific English romance writer of over 520 books.

A couple of years after she married Captain Arthur Denham-Cookes, he died from an influenza pandemic. Afterwards she moved to London with the purpose of "becoming a journalist." Not willing to give up, she eventually landed a job as "chief crime reporter for the Sunday Dispatch and Empire News."

Being a hard worker all her life, Bloom had the goal of writing about 10,000 words a day, which helps account for her prolific output.

Interestingly, Bloom couldn't spell very well, and her second husband would help by going over her manuscripts and correcting her spelling errors. This should be an inspiration to many people that want to write but think they have to be a good speller in order to do so. After all, being an editor is very different than being a writer and author.

Bloom also wrote under a variety of pseudonyms.

the-most-explosively-prolific-writers-of-all-time

Howard Roger Garis (Apr 25, 1873 - Nov 06, 1962)

Howard Roger Garis wrote over 500 books. His book series on Uncle Wiggily Longears, an elderly rabbit, was what he is most remembered for.

Garis launched his writing career as a newspaper reporter. While working for the Stratemeyer Syndicate Garis wrote the Tom Swift books, The Bobbsey Twings, Motor Boys, and Baseball Joe, among others. Some of these he wrote under "house names."

According to his son Roger, Garis had tremendous energy, and could also write at a very fast pace. He could "complete a series book for Strategmeyer in six to eight days."

the-most-explosively-prolific-writers-of-all-time

Jiro Akagawa (Born Feb 29, 1948...)

Jiro Akagawa is primarily known as a mystery writer with a touch of humor to his stories. He has written well over 560 novels and should easily surpass that mark in the near future.

Some of his works have been made into anime, while others into live action movies. His most identifiable work relates to Mike-neko (Calico cat) Holmes series.

the-most-explosively-prolific-writers-of-all-time

Isaac Asimov (Jan 02, 1920 - Apr 06, 1992)

Isaac Asimov is one of the more prolific of science fiction authors, if not the most prolific, as he has published about 468 books, with a number of them being non-fiction.

Even though Asimov had solid academic credentials, his passion was to write for a general audience. His first work to be sold was a short story called "Marooned Off Vesta," published in Amazing Stories in 1938. His novel Pebble in the Sky, released in 1950, was the first book he had published.

His Foundation series, specifically the first three, are among my favorite novels, as is the Prelude to Foundation book. The first installment in the series, Foundation, was published in 1951.

the-most-explosively-prolific-writers-of-all-time

R.L. Stine (Born October 8, 1943...)

R.L. Stine is known for his horror fiction novels for the children's market. While the word "horror" may sound inappropriate for children, I did read some of these with my grandchildren a long time ago, and while suspenseful, they weren't the type that would give children nightmares.

Stine has written about 450, which has sold well over 400 million copies.

the-most-explosively-prolific-writers-of-all-time

Edward Stratemeyer (October 4, 1862 – May 10, 1930)

Edward Stratemeyer wrote over 400 novels, but is more known for being the American publisher of the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew series, among other children's books.

He founded the syndicate that published those books for the American market.

the-most-explosively-prolific-writers-of-all-time

Georges Joseph Christian Simenon (Feb 13, 1903 - Sep 04, 1989)

Georges Joseph Christian Simenon wrote close to 200 novels under his own name, and over 300 under more than a dozen pseudonyms.

Simenon wrote detective novels and even more with a psychological focus.

Of all his writings, he is probably best known for Inspector Maigret. He was more intuitive than deductive in his way of solving crimes, which appealed to the audience he wrote for.

the-most-explosively-prolific-writers-of-all-time

Alexandre Dumas (Jul 24, 1802 - Dec 05, 1870)

Alexandre Dumas wrote about 277 books. There were others that wrote more than him between 300 and 400 books, but I include him in the list because he's a good example of the aforementioned writing of multi-volume novels that were counted as numerous books, when they were actually parts of an individual novel.

Dumas at one time had told Napoleon III that he had written 1,200 volumes. Another element to consider in his work was that he wrote with a number of collaborators, which makes the actual amount writing of Dumas difficult to know.

His complete works are represented in the 277 books mentioned above, and generally reflect his body of work.

The point of this is to understand that in the past writers counted multi-volume novels as individual books, when they were in reality sections of one book.

Dumas' The Three Musketeers was counted as eight volumes in his day.

Conclusion

I hope you enjoyed this list of prolific authors. My thought is that those that primarily wrote non-fiction are far more impressive in their collection of works because of the nature of how the books are researched and written.

Many of those writing in a similar genre such as romance, western or detective, generally have a template they work from, changing the jobs of the characters, names and places associated with the story, but the overall theme is somewhat a cookie cutter.

That's not necessarily bad, but it explains how they can write so many volumes during their lifetimes.

When researching this article, I noticed some people commenting about being discouraged in their writing when learning of how prolific these writers were. That shouldn't be the takeaway here.

The point is these people loved to write, found a tactic and methodology that allowed them to crank out story after story that catered to a specific audience.

For those wanting to write more prolifically, the key secret is to target a specific genre and write within that. That works because the material and background used to tell the story remains fresh in our minds, and it allows us to tell the story rather than attempt to come up with vastly different environments that take a lot of time.

That works great for a standalone story, but for those wanting to tell a lot of stories within a specific genre in different ways, sticking with that genre allows you to write prolifically.

Anytime you change a genre you're not familiar with, you have to do more homework in order to develop a compelling and believable environment.

As for these prolific writers, understand that it's very difficult, once you get past the first several authors, to accurately list them in order of how many books they wrote. There are too many variables, especially when they're very close in number.

That's the reason I didn't list them in order after the first few authors. Basically it's the first authors that are in order, and the rest are lumped together at approximately 500 or so.

Again, hopefully you enjoyed this list, and if you're an author, or want to be an author, it's an encouragement to know that these writers found ways to prolifically express their thoughts on paper.

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