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Celebrated authors who did not write a second novel

So, Harper Lee did write a second novel: Go Set a Watchman. But here are those who never did

Jasodhara Banerjee
Published: Jul 29, 2015 06:47:49 AM IST
Updated: Jul 28, 2015 07:42:14 PM IST
Celebrated authors who did not write a second novel
Image: Corbis
Arundhati Roy won the Booker Prize in 1997 for her debut novel, The God of Small Things

1. Margaret Mitchell
“Scarlett O’Hara was not beautiful, but men seldom realised it when caught by her charm as the Tarleton twins were.” The opening line of Mitchell’s Gone With the Wind—an American civil war-era story—sets the stage for one of the most loved female characters in English fiction. But Mitchell, who won the Pulitzer for the book in 1937, did not recreate the magic in any other novel. A journalist for The Atlanta Journal, she did, however, write a novella.

2. Emily Brontë
Writing under the pen name Ellis Bell, Emily Brontë was the third of four siblings. Her novel Wuthering Heights, which was published in 1847, led many to believe that it was written by a man, given its powerful language, imagery and sexual passion. Brontë died in 1848, and though it was believed that she was working on a second novel, its manuscript was never found.

3. Arundhati Roy
Author of the Booker Prize-winning The God of Small Things, Roy said in 2007 that she was working on a second novel, but nothing more is known. She has turned her energy towards activism since her first novel was published in 1997, and has written essays and non-fiction. She is a critic of India’s policy on nuclear weapons, American foreign policy and neo-imperialism.  

4. Anna Sewell
One of the best-selling books of all time, Black Beauty was written in the last years of Sewell’s life. She died five months after its publication in 1877. A childhood accident had rendered Sewell unable to walk or stand, thus making her dependent on horse-drawn transportation, and getting her to love and respect animals.

5. Keri Hulme
Hulme became the first New Zealander to win the Booker Prize (in 1985) for her novel The Bone People, which draws parallels with the lives of the Maori. Although she has had a career in writing—she was the writer-in-residence at the University of Chicago in 1978—and has received many honours and awards, The Bone People remains her only novel.

6. The others

There are others who have excelled in other forms of writing such as short stories, plays, poetry and essays, but have written just one novel. They include Oscar Wilde (The Picture of Dorian Gray), Boris Pasternak (Doctor Zhivago), Sylvia Plath (The Bell Jar), JD Salinger (The Catcher in the Rye) and Edgar Allan Poe (The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket).

(This story appears in the 07 August, 2015 issue of Forbes India. To visit our Archives, click here.)