Are There Any Authors With One Book Or Series That Overshadows All Their Other Work
Posted on 3rd of August, 2018


Up until recently I would have said Douglas Adams as everyone only know him because of his series, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Adams also wrote two detective novels, Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency and The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul, which remained relatively obscure until recently when BBC America turned it into a television series.
There are actually quite a number of authors who either shot to fame for a particular book and then never wrote anything else that could live up to it or stuck to one series after achieving success with it. I suppose the most famous example would be Mr Game of Thrones himself, George R. R. Martin. Mr Martin is of course best known for A Song of Ice and Fire, which television audiences will know as Game of Thrones. Ever heard of his vampire novel "Fevre Dream"? What about his horror novel "The Armageddon Rag?" How about his work on the superhero series of books, "Wildcards?" Unless you are a huge fan of the author then I'm willing to bet that the answer is "no."

The same can be said of Salinger who everyone remembers for The Catcher in the Rye, but ask them what else he wrote and you are likely to get blank stares. Mention books like Down at the Dinghy, Pretty Mouth and Green My Eyes, or Just Before the War with the Eskimos and few but the most ardent Salinger fan would even know what you are talking about.

One can even argue that Mary Shelley falls into this category. Everyone knows about Frankenstein, but Valperga, The Last Man, Lodore, Falkner, and Mathilda are rarely if ever mentioned. Another good example is Jack Kerouac, the man who wrote On The Road. I'm sure that there are people who think it was his only book when in reality he wrote many other ones too.
Everyone knows Animal Farm or Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell, but surprise, surprise, these are not his only books. Look a little further back in his career and you'll also find Burmese Days, A Clergyman's Daughter, Keep the Aspidistra Flying and Coming Up for Air. The latter in particular is one of his best books in my opinion and deserves more recognition.
J. R. R. Tolkien certainly fits the bill as he became wildly famous for The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings, which dwarfed his other accomplishments. The man wrote a prodigal amount of academic work as well as a massive amount of poetry. Even I was surprised by how much more than just The Hobbit and Lord of The Rings he wrote.

J. D. Salinger will forever be remembered for The Catcher in the Rye while his other works, including the excellent Franny and Zooey, has faded into obscurity. It is astounding how many people consider themselves fans of Salinger without having ever read anything but Catcher.

Lewis Carroll is considered to be a one-hit-wonder by some readers who are not familiar with his other books like The Story of Sylvie and Bruno. It shares the same writing style as Alice but didn't get half of the publicity.

Frank Herbert is known for the Dune series of books that became so popular that his other books became mere footnotes in his career. This is a pity as The Godmakers, The White Plague, The Dosadi Experiment and The Dragon in the Sea are all great stories. Herbert even wrote books in partnership with another author although few people these days seem to know of them. If you are interested, they are The Jesus Incident, The Ascension Factor and The Lazarus Effect which he wrote with Bill Ransom.

Ian Fleming is of course fondly remembered as the man who created everyone's favorite secret agent, James Bond. It will surprise some people to hear that Fleming also wrote Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang: The Magical Car! Most people only know about the musical fantasy film, but it actually uses Fleming's novel as inspiration.

Bram Stoker wrote Dracula yes, but also The Snake's Pass, The Watter's Mou, The Shoulder of Shasta, The Mystery of the Sea, The Jewel of Seven Stars, The Lady of the Shroud and much, much more. Sure, not all of them are as good as Dracula, but they definitely deserve far more recognition.

Herman Melville is the acclaimed author of Moby Dick, but I'm sure that it would have saddened him to know that the huge amounts of poetry that he wrote has virtually been forgotten by the general public. Even his short stories and other novels like The Confidence-Man failed to leave much of a lasting impact compared to Moby Dick.

These are just the "famous" ones and you'll discovery many more like them if you search hard enough.
Not sure if it counts, but Emily Bronte is only known for Wuthering Heights despite the fact that she was quite accomplished at writing poetry too. Now that I think about it, I would even include Oscar Wilde as everyone knows him for The Picture of Dorian Gray, which is his only novel, but far from his only work.
As far as I can recall James Joyce wrote more than just Ulysses, but it has overshadowed his other work. Even the book that he wrote after Ulysses, called Finnegans Wake, never came close to the kind of fame and notoriety of the book that has become synonymous with his name. Margaret Mitchell is a bit more tricky as everyone only knows her for Gone With The Wind, but she also wrote some stuff like a romance novella in her teens. Anna Sewel wrote one of the best selling children's novels of all time, Black Beauty, but that is about all she is known for.

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