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One Novel Authors

Updated: February 2, 2013

These authors wrote popular novels, but for various reasons never published another novel in their lifetime.

Sewell, Anna, 1820-1878.
Call Number: x Ed.v
Anna Sewell's only book was written in the last years of her life so as ". . . to induce kindness, sympathy, and an understanding treatment of horses." The book was a huge best seller, eventually selling over 50 million copies, becoming a children's classic, and helping to increase the awareness of animal welfare. Sewell died five months after the publication of the book, but lived long enough to see its initial success.

Greenberg, Eric Rolfe.
An immigrant jeweler goes through a severe case of hero worship as his life intersects with baseball great Christy Mathewson and the New York Giants of John McGraw. The strength of this novel is its meticulous recreation of baseball and New York City in the early part of the 20th century. It has become a cult novel and favorite of baseball fans. Greenberg has contributed to other books on baseball but, to date, has never published another novel.

Plimpton, George.
George Plimpton's 1985 April Fool's Day cover story about a yogi turned New York Mets pitching phenom hoodwinked many readers of Sports Illustrated. Harvard dropout Hayden "Siddharta" Finch could not decide if he wanted to play professional baseball, despite possessing a 168 mph fastball. The story was expanded in a delightful novel which delves into his baseball career.

Pasternak, Boris Leonidovich, 1890-1960.
Call Number: Ed.b
Although Pasternak was primarily known as a poet, his novel about the early days of the Soviet Union was suppressed in the USSR and denied publication. The novel was eventually smuggled out of the country by Isaiah Berlin and published to huge acclaim and sales all over the world, eventually spending six months on top of the New York Times bestseller list. Awarded a Nobel Prize for Literature in 1958, Pasternak was forced by the Soviet government to decline the prize.

Miller, Arthur, 1915-2005.
Focus is famed American playwight Arthur Miller's only novel. Lawrence Newman, an Anti-Semitic Christian living in New York, is mistaken for a Jew after he buys a new set of glasses. He becomes the victim of Anti-Semitic persecution merely based on his appearance. Focus, along with Saul Bellow's The Victim, and Laura Z. Hobson's Gentleman's Agreement, were the first major novels to deal with the issue of Anti-Semitism in America that were published after the Holocaust.

Mitchell, Margaret, 1900-1949.
Call Number: Ed.j
May 2011 marked the 75th anniversary of the publication of Gone with the Wind. Even at the time of its publication it was controversial for its depiction of race, however this book was a huge bestseller, selling over a million copies by December of 1936. If possible, David O. Selznick's film adaptation in 1939 was an even bigger sensation and Mitchell realized that being the author of Gone With the Wind was a full-time job and never wrote another book.

Ellison, Ralph.
Call Number: Ed.f

One of the landmarks of 20th-century literature, this was the only novel that Ellison published in his lifetime. It is the story of an unnamed African-American man who looks back on his brief career and his journey from the Deep South to a basement in Harlem where he has retreated after realizing that he is invisible to society. Ellison's unfinished second novel has been published posthumously as, Three Days Before the Shooting.

Heggen, Thomas, 1919-1949.
Call Number: Ed.b

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.

Jarrell, Randall, 1914-1965.
Call Number: Ed.a
Poet and critic Randall Jarrell only wrote one book of fiction, a hilarious satire of life at a fictional Seven Sisters college in the 1950s. The novel was based on his experience of teaching at Sarah Lawrence College in the 1940s and its main character, Gertrude Morgan, was said to be modeled on Mary McCarthy with whom Jarrell taught at Sarah Lawrence.

Lee, Harper.
Call Number: Ed.g

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.)

Call Number:
Emily Bronte's only novel, originally published under the pen name of Ellis Bell, has become a classic of English literature despite originally meeting with tepid reviews. The story takes place on the Yorkshire moors and concerns the doomed love affair between Catherine Earnshaw and Heathcliff. Like her sisters Anne and Charlotte, Emily died young at age 30.