It's about authors that never made it "big" as they only wrote one novel. I admit--I editorialize when I say "never made it big." The writer actually simply points out who these one hit wonders were.
Here they are, author and book:
- Harper Lee - To Kill a Mockingbird
- Margaret Mitchell - Gone With the Wind
- Emily Bronte - Wuthering Heights
- J.D.Salinger - Catcher in the Rye
- Oscar Wilde - The Picture of Dorian Gray
- John Kennedy Toole - A Confederacy of Dunces
- Sylvia Plath - The Bell Jar
- Anna Sewell - Black Beauty
- Boris Pasternak - Dr Zhivago
- Arundhati Roy - The God of Small Things
I find this list curiously puzzling. In many instances, the reason the second novel was not written is not for lack of inspiration. Harper Lee and Margaret Mitchell had opportunity to write another novel, although Margaret Mitchell was killed when she was struck by a car, ending any possibility of a literary come-back.
Some never had a chance to write another work. Emily Bronte died one year after her masterpiece was published, and Sylvia Plath committed suicide the year The Bell Jar was published. Anna Sewell died soon after her book came out. In each of these instances, the premature death cut short any literary career or any subsequent novel.
Of course, some of the writers moved on to other forms of expression. I would never call Oscar Wilde a novelist. He is far more famous for his wit, and his having flaunted Victorian morals, famously losing his libel trial. His literary reputation stands on several successful dramas that he wrote.
Sylvia Plath, albeit short-lived, is far more famous for her stunning poetry than her auto-biographical novel.
Perhaps the most famous writing procrastinator is J.D. Salinger who has a small body of work, some longer stories collected into novella form. So, I would hardly call him a one hit wonder. In fact, I think he is as famous for his renowned reclusiveness.
Salinger and Arundhati Roy are the only two on the list still living, so there's always time for them to write another "hit."
One novelist not on the list is Ralph Ellison whose Invisible Man made his reputation. There are stories of Ellison working and working and working on his second novel. During his life, it was never published. When he died, a manuscript was found and eventually assembled for publishing--a rambling work--it never reached the proportion of acclaim Invisible Man garnered. Another one hit wonder?
I suspect there are other novelists out there whose reputation was made on the strength of one stunning work.
After reviewing the list, I can only say--if I can fail the way these writers have failed, I will be in very good company indeed.