For some, love happens only once…and for some, a literary hit happens only once! The world of fiction has seen some brilliant authors whose masterpieces are truly unparalleled in terms of their theme, their writing, their message, their characters, and their stories.
Regrettably though, some of these authors turn out to be one hit wonders, stars that shine only once, leaving their many fans hungry for more, or in some cases, disappointed. Although some of such authors have written other books, none hold a candle to their most famous works, and hence are included in the following list of one- hit wonders:
To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Truly a classic, the Pulitzer Prize winning author Harper Lee had stated decades ago that she would not write again as she, apparently, did not want to go through the pressure and publicity again, nor did she have anything more to say through her writing. Her 1960 bestselling book is an integral part of American Literature, poignantly describing one of the most shameful periods of American history, the times of racial prejudice, through the eyes of a 6 year old tomboy named Scout. Although, Lee did write another book titled ‘Go Set a Watchman’, it did not receive as much acclaim as its predecessor.
Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë
Sister of another revered author, Charlotte Brontë, Emily’s book is considered as one of the classics of American literature. The story of the protagonist Heathcliff and Catherine takes wild and passionate turns in the moorlands of Wuthering Heights. The uniqueness of the novel lies in the fact that in spite of holding plenty of deplorable qualities, the protagonists of the story are so well received by the readers. Unfortunately, before Brontë could write any more splendid stories, her writing journey was cut short due to her death at the young age of 30, leaving only one book as her legacy.
Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
This historical fiction novel won its author the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1937. Although she was requested to write a sequel to the book to make up for the ambiguity of the book’s ending, she refused. The second favorite book of American readers as per a Harris poll, ‘Gone with the Wind’ tells the story of Scarlett O’ Hara, the bratty daughter of a plantation owner during the American Civil War and Reconstruction period. The coming-of-age book encompasses various topics like slavery and caste system apart from the main theme of survival.
Black Beauty by Anna Sewell
Originally meant for those working with horses, the children’s book has sold more than 50 million copies. The story is told from an autobiographical perspective of the titular character, Black Beauty. It shows its journey from being a well looked after colt in an English farm to the cruelty of the streets of London. Encompassing universal themes of compassion, kindness, and empathy, the book was the only novel by the author who died of ill health five months after the book was published.
A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole
A picaresque novel, the story follows the misadventures of the protagonist Ignatius J. Reilly as he goes from living with his mother to being on the pavement, hunting for a job. Toole masterfully combines the tragedy of the situation with humour to give the reader a great reading experience. Published post Toole’s death by suicide, the novel received the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1981.
The Catcher in the Rye by J.D Salinger
Although controversial, the book has sold more than 65 million copies worldwide, and has been translated into almost all of the world’s popular languages. The teenage protagonist, Holden Caulfield, has become an icon who effectively symbolizes the teenage angst and rebelliousness that every adolescent faces. Salinger has authored many other books, but none come close to the masterpiece that was ‘The Catcher in the Rye’.
Be it ill health or lack of an idea, unwillingness to write or simply a choice, the fact remains that these promising authors gave the book world only one work of genius which although commendable, left the fans gasping for more…