These authors wrote popular novels, but for various reasons never published another novel in their lifetime.
While serving on a cargo ship in the Pacific during World War II, Thomas Heggen wrote a series of impressionistic scenes detailing the tedious life aboard a supply ship far from the action. After the war he turned his writings into a novel which became a huge best seller and then a hit Broadway play and movie. Heggen struggled with writer's block while trying to write a second novel and died under mysterious circumstances in 1949.
Maybe the most famous one book author, Lee published To Kill a Mockingbird in 1960. It was an instant bestseller, winning the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1961 and was adapted into an Academy Award winning film in 1962. Since the publication of the book Lee has remained reclusive, neither publishing another book nor granting interviews. (As of 2015, Harper Lee is now known for two novels.)