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
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
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
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 Bible, which John had written as an adolescent lad of 16; however, Dunces remains his singularly defining work.