One Book Wonders

It was announced yesterday that Harper Lee, the acclaimed author of To Kill a Mockingbird, will (after half a century) be releasing a second novel - a sequel to Mockingbird entitled Go Set a Watchman. In the wake of this announcement, no longer can Harper Lee be categorized as a one-book-wonder. 

This news set me to thinking:  What other acclaimed American authors only published one novel? Submitted for your approval is the following triumvirate...

1. The Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison

I am an invisible man. No, I am not a spook like those who haunted Edgar Allan Poe; nor am I one of your Hollywood-movie ectoplasms. I am a man of substance, of flesh and bone, fiber and liquids - and I might even be said to possess a mind. I am invisible, understand, simply because people refuse to see me. Like the bodiless heads you see sometimes in circus sideshows, it is as though I have been surrounded by mirrors of hard, distorting glass. When they approach me they see only my surroundings, themselves, or figments of their imagination - indeed, everything and anything except me.
— The Invisible Man, Ralph Ellison

It has been argued that Ellison's book on the black experience in early 1900s America might justly be considered 'the great American novel'. Although it won the National Book Award for 1953, The Invisible Man remained the only published novel of Ellison's lifetime - his subsequent work would focus primarily on political and social essays. 

2. Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell

Scarlett O’Hara was not beautiful, but men seldom realized it when caught by her charm as the Tarleton twins were. In her face were too sharply blended the delicate features of her mother, a Coast aristocrat of French descent, and the heavy ones of her florid Irish father. But it was an arresting face, pointed of chin, square of jaw. Her eyes were pale green without a touch of hazel, starred with bristly black lashes and slightly tilted at the ends. Above them, her thick black brows slanted upward, cutting a startling oblique line in her magnolia-white skin—that skin so prized by Southern women and so carefully guarded with bonnets, veils and mittens against hot Georgia suns.
— Gone With the Wind, Margaret Mitchell

Before it was a legendary American movie, Gone With the Wind was the crowning (and solitary) novelistic achievement of Margaret Mitchell's literary career. For her effort, Mitchell won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1937.  She would later become an extensive article writer for The Atlanta Journal.

3. A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole

At last I crossed Canal Street, pretending to ignore the attention paid me by all whom I passed. The narrow streets of the Quarter awaited me. A vagrant petitioned for a hot dog. I waved him away and strode forth. Unfortunately, my feet could not keep pace with my soul. Below my ankles, the tissues were crying for rest and comfort, so I placed the wagon at the curb and seated myself. The balconies of the old buildings hung over my head like dark branches in an allegorical forest of evil. Symbolically, a Desire bus hurtled past me, its diesel exhaust almost strangling me.
— A Confederacy of Dunces, John Kennedy Toole

Telling the story of ne'er-do-well Ignatius J. Reilly and his hunt for gainful employment in New Orleans, the uproariously funny A Confederacy of Dunces was published eleven years after Toole's suicide and would ultimately win the 1981 Pulitzer Prize. In 1989, Toole's family would release another posthumous work, The Neon Biblewhich John had written as an adolescent lad of 16; however, Dunces remains his singularly defining work.