Everybody has a favorite author they turn to time and time again. Before adding their most recent book to our already crowded shelf, we hardly even glance at the reviews left by the reviewers. But who has done that the most frequently? Which authors are the most marketable? Here, we’ll look at a list of the world’s bestselling authors of all time.
Being an author is a challenge in and of itself, and being a best-selling author is nothing short of a dream. There are many novelists around the globe, and their work has produced some excellent novels for readers to enjoy. The number of best-selling writers is as long as the Atlantic Ocean. They sold millions and billions of copies in addition to being among the best-selling authors around the entire globe.
In black and white, writers carve out their imagination. Every writer has a particular genre: poetry or prose, fiction or non-fiction, drama or novels. Nevertheless, some authors indulge in multiple genres based on their preferences and creative abilities. In the process, a piece of literature is created that turns that individual into a bestselling author.
Don’t run away just yet, and further down, I have prepared a list of the world’s bestselling authors just for you all to explore. Keep reading further!!
World’s Bestselling Authors of All Time
1. Gilbert Patten
William George “Gilbert” Patten, who wrote dime novels under the pen name Burt L. Standish and died on January 16, 1945, is best remembered for creating the Frank Merriwell stories. He produced dime books as a writer. The Diamond Sport, also known as The Double Face of Bed Rock, was his first published dime novel and was released by Beadle in 1886.
Although he also wrote under the name Wyoming Bill, Burt L. Standish is most known for his athletic tales in the Frank Merriwell series. For the publisher Street & Smith, Patten began writing the Merriwell stories in April 1896. Over twenty years, he delivered one story weekly, totaling 20,000 words.
2. Sidney Sheldon
Sidney Sheldon was an American author, director, and producer who lived from February 11, 1917, until January 30, 2007. Sheldon received a nomination for the Edgar Allan Poe Award from the Mystery Writers of America for his first book, The Naked Face, published in 1969.
His following books, including The Other Side of Midnight, adapted into a movie or a TV miniseries, have reached the top of The New York Times Best Seller list. His books frequently depicted strong women who persisted in a challenging society ruled by unfriendly males.
3. Georges Simenon
Belgian author Georges Joseph Christian Simenon lived from February 13, 1903, to September 4, 1989. Simenon was a prolific writer who produced more than 500 novels and numerous short stories.
He is best known for inventing the fictitious investigator Jules Maigret. However, he is most recognized for his 28 short tales and 75 novels, including Commissaire Maigret. Pieter-le-Letton, the first book in the series, was serialized in 1930 and published in book form in 1931.
Maigret and Monsieur Charles, the final book in the series, was released in 1972. The main languages have versions of the Maigret books, and several have been made into movies and radio plays.
4. Danielle Steel
Fernandes, Danielle Dominique Schuelein-Steel, an American author best known for her romantic novels, was born on August 14, 1947. With over 800 million copies sold, she is the fourth-best-selling fiction novelist and the best-selling living author. She had written 190 books as of 2021, including more than 140 novels.
Steel has spent most of her career living in California, producing many books each year while managing up to five different projects. Although she has received a deafening lack of critical recognition, all her books, including those published in hardcover, have been bestsellers.
In several of her novels, wealthy families are in peril and face terrible threats, including imprisonment, fraud, blackmail, and suicide. In addition to forming a foundation that funds groups dealing with mental illness, Steel has also written children’s poetry and fiction.
5. Barbara Cartland
Dame Mary Barbara Hamilton Cartland, DBE, DStJ (also known as Barbara Cartland; born July 9, 1901; died May 21, 2000) was an English author and publisher of contemporary and historical romance books, with the latter genre being more prevalently set in the Victorian or Edwardian eras. One of the best-selling authors of the 20th century globally is Cartland.
Cartland is now the fifth-most translated author in the world because of the several languages into which her novels have been translated from English. With 723 novels in her prodigious output, she holds the Guinness World Record for the most novels released in a calendar year (1977).
While other sources place her total book sales at above two billion, she sold more than 750 million copies of her works.
6. Harold Robbins
American novelist Harold Robbins (May 21, 1916 – October 14, 1997) wrote several well-known books. He wrote over 25 bestsellers, with over 750 million copies sold worldwide in 32 languages, making him one of the best-selling authors of all time. Never Love a Stranger was his debut novel (1948).
In The Dream Merchants (1949), Robbins merged his personal experiences with history, melodrama, sensuality, and glitzy high society to create a fast-paced tale of the American cinema industry from its inception until the sound era. His 1952 book “A Stone for Danny Fisher” was turned into the 1958 Elvis Presley-starring film, King Creole.
7. Enid Blyton
Enid Mary Blyton was an English children’s author who lived from August 11, 1897, to November 28, 1968. Her books have sold more than 600 million copies worldwide since the 1930s. Ninety different languages have been used to translate her wildly famous works. Blyton was the author with the fourth-highest number of translations as of June 2019.
Enid also wrote about various subjects, such as education, natural history, magic, mysteries, and biblical stories. She also authored several other books, including St Clare’s, The Naughtiest Girl, and The Faraway Tree series. Still, she is most known today for her works on Noddy, the Famous Five, Secret Seven, the Five Find-Outers, and Malory Towers.
8. J.K. Rowling
Joanne Rowling, commonly known by her literary name J. K. Rowling, is a British novelist and philanthropist born on July 31, 1965. She was the author of the seven-volume children’s fantasy series Harry Potter, which was released from 1997 to 2007. The book series is the best-selling book in history and has been translated into at least 70 languages. It has also created a global media franchise that includes movies and video games.
Her debut book for adults was The Casual Vacancy (2012). As Robert Galbraith, she creates the ongoing crime novel series Cormoran Strike.
9. Dr. Seuss
American children’s novelist and cartoonist Theodor Seuss Geisel (March 2, 1904 – September 24, 1991) was born in the United States. Under the pen name Dr. Seuss, he has written and illustrated more than 60 books. By his passing, his novels had sold over 600 million copies and been translated into more than 20 languages, making him the author of several of the most well-known children’s books of all time.
While an undergraduate at Dartmouth College and a graduate student at Lincoln College, Oxford, Geisel took up the moniker “Dr. Seuss.” In 1937, he released And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street, his debut picture book.
10. Eiichiro Oda
One Piece’s creator, Eiichiro Oda, is a Japanese manga artist born on January 1, 1975. (1997–present). One Piece is the best-selling manga in history and the best-selling comic book series printed in volume. As a result, Oda is one of the best-selling fiction authors, with more than 516.5 million tankōbon copies in circulation worldwide.
Oda was listed among the manga artists who impacted the history of comics because of the series’ success. Cross Epoch, a 2007 crossover one-shot by Oda and Akira Toriyama, features characters from One Piece and Dragon Ball by Toriyama and Oda. Each created a Gaist character for the video game Gaist Crusher in 2013.
11. Leo Tolstoy
Lev Nikolayevich Tolstoy, commonly known as Leo Tolstoy in English, was a Russian author revered as one of literature’s greatest voices. He was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature every year between 1902 and 1906 and the Nobel Peace Prize in 1901, 1902, and 1909. It is the subject of intense debate as he was never awarded the prize.
The novels War and Peace (1869) and Anna Karenina (1878), frequently regarded as the heights of realist literature, are among Tolstoy’s significant works. His semi-autobiographical trilogy Childhood, Boyhood, and Youth (1852–1856) and Sevastopol Sketches (1855) were inspired by his experiences in the Crimean War and brought him literary success for the first time in his twenties.
12. Charles Schulz
American cartoonist and Peanuts comic strip creator Charles Monroe “Sparky” Schulz (November 26, 1922 – February 12, 2000) was born in the United States and featured the characters Charlie Brown and Snoopy, among many others. Many cartoonists, including Jim Davis, Bill Watterson, Matt Groening, and Dav Pilkey, acknowledge him as one of the most influential cartoonists of all time and a significant influence.
From June 1947 until January 1950, the St. Paul Pioneer Press published Schulz’s first regular cartoon series, Li’l Folks, a weekly collection of one-panel humor. Schulz typically produced four one-panel cartoons per issue.
13. Agatha Christie
English author Dame Agatha Mary Clarissa Christie, Lady Mallowan (September 15, 1890 – January 12, 1976) is best known for her 14 short story collections and 66 detective novels, many of which feature the fictitious detectives Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple. “The Mousetrap,” a murder mystery staged in the West End since 1952, is the longest-running play in history which she also wrote. Christie is said to as the “Queen of Crime” and was a writer during the “Golden Age of Detective Fiction.”
Additionally, she published six novels under the name Mary Westmacott. Queen Elizabeth II received the title of Dame in 1971 in recognition of her literary achievements. With more than two billion copies of her books sold worldwide, Christie is recognized as the best-selling fiction author of all time by Guinness World Records.
14. Debbie Macomber
American romance and modern women’s literature novelist Debbie Macomber was born on October 22, 1948. Her Cedar Cove series of novels were turned into a television series with the same name, and six of her books have transformed into made-for-TV movies.
Macomber received both a RITA Award and a lifetime achievement award from the Romance Writers of America. In 2005, she was the first recipient of the fan-voted Quill Award for romance. Macomber has won the B. Dalton Award three times and the first Quill Award for romance, which was chosen by the audience (2005, for 44 Cranberry Point).
She has received the Distinguished Lifetime Achievement Award from Romantic Times Magazine and a RITA Award from the Romance Writers of America for her novel The Christmas Basket.
15. Mary Higgins Clark
American thriller novelist Mary Theresa Eleanor Higgins Clark (December 24, 1927 – January 31, 2020) was born in the United States. Every one of her 51 books, including her debut suspense novel Where Are the Children?, is currently in its 75th edition.
All of her books were bestsellers in the United States and several European nations. Higgins Clark started writing when he was pretty young.
She spent a year as a hostess for Pan-American Airlines after working as a secretary and copy editor for several years before quitting her job to get married and establish a family. She added to the household’s income by penning short stories.
16. Patricia Cornwell
American crime novelist Patricia Cornwell was born Patricia Carroll Daniels on June 9, 1956. She is well-known for her bestselling books about the medical examiner Kay Scarpetta, the first of which was motivated by a flurry of dramatic killings in Richmond, Virginia, the setting for most of the stories.
The stories are famous for their focus on forensic science, which has influenced how police work has been portrayed in later TV shows.
Additionally, Cornwell has started investigations into the Jack the Ripper murders that accuse well-known British artist Walter Sickert. She sold over one hundred million copies of her books.
17. Ann M. Martin
The Baby-Sitters Club series is the most well-known work of American children’s author Ann Matthews Martin (born August 12, 1955). Ann Matthews Martin was raised in Princeton, New Jersey.
Martin became interested in writing at a young age. She would dictate stories to her mother to write them for her before she was old enough. Martin taught fourth and fifth graders in a combined classroom at Plumfield School in Noroton, Connecticut, after earning his degree from Smith College.
Her 8 to 13-year-old students had learning impairments like dyslexia and autism. Martin claims that writing about special needs kids were impacted by her experience with them.
18. Roald Dahl
British novelist, short-story author, poet, screenwriter, and ace fighter in World War II Roald Dahl (September 13, 1916 – November 23, 1990) was of Norwegian heritage. More than 250 million copies of his books have been sold globally. Born to wealthy Norwegian immigrants in Wales, Dahl lived much of his life in England.
Dahl’s children’s tales are renowned for their unsentimental, macabre, and frequently darkly comedic mood, as well as the evil adult foes that the kid characters face in his short stories. His children’s novels have a pleasant, underlying message that promotes kindness. James and the Giant Peach, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Matilda, The Witches, and many other children’s books are among his creations.
Tales of the Unexpected is one of his adult works.
19. D. H. Lawrence
David Herbert Lawrence was an English author, novelist, poet, and essayist who lived from September 11, 1885, to March 2, 1930. Modernity, industrialization, sexuality, emotional well-being, vigor, spontaneity, and instinct are all themes that appear in his works.
Lawrence spent his formative years in the coal mining town of Eastwood, Nottinghamshire. He was the fourth child of Lydia Beardsall, a former pupil-teacher who had been forced to work in a lace factory due to her family’s financial difficulties, and Arthur John Lawrence, a barely literate miner at Brinsley Colliery.
His best-known books, including Sons and Lovers, The Rainbow, Women in Love, and Lady Chatterley’s Lover, focused on censorship proceedings and mainly dealt with gay and lesbian relationships.
20. Lewis Carroll
Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, better known by his pen name Lewis Carroll, was an English author, poet, and mathematician who lived from January 27, 1832, to January 14, 1898.
Lewis Carroll most famous works are Through the Looking Glass (1867), a sequel to Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (1865) (1871). His skill with wordplay, logic, and fantasy was well known— poems The Hunting of the Snark (1876) and Jabberwocky (1871) are considered literary nonsense.
Carroll, raised in a high-church Anglican family, had a long-standing association with Christ Church, Oxford, where he spent most of his life as a researcher and educator. Although Carroll consistently denied it, Alice Liddell, the daughter of Henry Liddell, dean of Christ Church, is primarily acknowledged as the original inspiration for Alice in Wonderland.
Conclusion | Top 20 World’s Bestselling Authors
So, this was our list of the world’s bestselling authors across time. As you might have noticed, most of these authors are from previous eras, yet their works manage to outshine and outperform so many of the new authors of the day. Regardless, these aren’t the only ones reigning the world with their literary works. There are plenty more, but these surely top the list.
Also, do check out:
- 15 Authors Who Wrote Most Of The Books
- Why You Forget What You Read?
- Book Review: Lightning Strike By William Kent Krueger
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