Karla Accorto

Fiction’s One-Hit Wonders

Karla Accorto

While authors like Agatha Christie and Stephen King have published dozens of novels, others are known for their publication of a single novel.

Emily Brontë, for example, only published Wuthering Heights, and it wasn’t well received until after her death. Critics either judged it very harshly or were unsure how to react to her dramatic romance. Whether Brontë ever intended to publish another book is unknown—she died of tuberculosis before she had the chance.

Gone With the Wind author Margaret Mitchell may have been discouraged from publishing again after the great media attention her first novel garnered. While initially a willing participant, Mitchell eventually stopped partaking in interviews and signing autographs, citing poor health. Ultimately, World War II broke out, and she turned to volunteering for the Red Cross.

J. D. Salinger also found himself disliking the spotlight after the publication of The Catcher in the Rye. He was always a private person and did not enjoy the attention gained by his novel. Fame and public scrutiny made him a recluse, and though he published some stories and novellas, he never published another novel.

For some authors, the success of one novel appeared to be too much, discouraging them from publishing a second. For others like Brontë, however, we will never know what might have been.

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