10 Lesser Known Works By Famous Authors

Thanks to both my personal voracious reading habit and my education as an English major, I've read the major works of a decent amount of the world's most famous authors. You know, the greatest hits. What I'm less schooled in, however, are the deep cuts, the B-sides of a lot of authors' bibliographies. Although I obviously have some personal favorites with whom I'm very familiar with their larger body of work, for the most part I'm really only familiar with an author's most famous novels.

Which is a shame, because a lot of authors who I assumed were one-hit wonders actually have a pretty large and diverse bibliography! Whether they had published a few novels before their most famous works were written or they had sneakily published under an assumed name, I was shocked at how many well-known authors had written way more novels than I initially thought. I found this especially true of children's authors; while I was familiar with their popular works for kids, I had no idea that many of them had written a number of novels for adults as well. And that's not even counting all of the short stories, plays, and collections of poems that many writers have produced over the years as well! I was especially surprised by the output of the 10 authors below, who I had (wrongfully) assumed only had one famous title.

1. J.K. Rowling

You may be familiar about Rowling's series about a boy wizard (Harry Potter? Maybe you've heard of him?). But Rowling has branched out a bit since the conclusion of the Harry Potter series, preferring stories about murders and small-town politics to magic schools. Her novel The Casual Vacancy was released in 2012 under her own name, and she is currently working on the Cormoran Strike series of detective novels under the pen name Robert Galbraith.

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2. C.S. Lewis

Best known for his classic children's series The Chronicles of Narnia, the deeply religious Lewis actually wrote a number of books that play upon his Christian faith. His "Space Trilogy" series for adults deals with morality and space travel and features a main character based on J.R.R. Tolkien. Other works include The Screwtape Letters (narrated by a demon) and Till We Have Faces, a retelling of the Cupid and Psyche myth.

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3. Charlotte Brontë

I spent most of my life assuming that Jane Eyre was the only novel Charlotte Brontë ever published. However, she actually published two more books during her lifetime: Villette, the tale of an English woman who becomes a teacher in a French boarding school, and Shirley, a story about a wealthy, land-owning woman living in a town threatened by the unrest of its unemployed working class.

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4. Anne Brontë

Ok, yes, thanks to Emily Brontë and Wuthering Heights I assumed that all three of the Brontë sisters only published a novel apiece. Once again, I was wrong. Besides The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, Anne also published Agnes Grey, which focuses on a young woman who becomes a governess for a number of wealthy families and falls in love with the new parson. While Agnes Grey was published around the same time as Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre, Anne wouldn't find literary fame until the publications of The Tenant of Wildfell Hall.

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5. George R.R. Martin

You might know Martin for writing the A Song of Fire and Ice series (OR NOT WRITING, AMIRITE?), but he has published a number of novels outside of his famous high fantasy tales and their corresponding short stories. Among those are Dying of the Light (set on a dying planet), The Armageddon Rag (about the murder of a band named after characters from The Lord of the Rings), and Fevre Dream (featuring vampires sailing along the Mississippi River).

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6. Lewis Carroll

Carroll may be best known for Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and its sequel Through the Looking Glass and What Alice Saw, but Caroll published two other long works as well. The Hunting of the Snark is a poem about nine tradesmen and a beaver who go off searching for a creature call a snark, whereas Sylvie and Bruno is about two siblings who inhabit both a fairyland and Victorian England (like the Alice books, but not nearly so well received by critics).

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7. A.A. Milne

A.A. Milne probably wouldn't be too thrilled to know that he's mostly known for writing about a stuffed bear with a very rumbly tumbly. A writer who served in both World Wars, Milne was initially known for his work as a playwright, a detective novelist, and as a humorist. Of course, once Winnie the Pooh was published most of his other work was overshadowed. If you'd like to try something a bit more grown-up by Milne, however, I'd recommend the murder mystery The Red House Mystery.

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8. L. Frank Baum

Toto, I don't think we're in Kansas anymore. Even discounting his 18 Oz books, Baum was an incredibly prolific writer, authoring countless novels, short stories, and plays. He also wrote under a number of pseudonyms, including the Aunt Jane's Nieces series as Edith Van Dyne and the Boy Fortune Hunters series as Floyd Akers. In fact, in total Baum wrote at least 55 novels, along with a great number of short stories and poems.

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9. Mary Shelley

Your familiarity with Mary Shelley's works probably doesn't go any further than reading Frankenstein in high school (mine doesn't, anyway). But it turns out that Shelley had published a number of novels in addition to the gothic classic, including the historical novels Valperga and The Fortunes of Perkin Warbeck. If you're more into post-apocalyptic novels, check out The Last Man, which takes place at the very end of the 21st century in a world being overrun by a plague.

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10. Suzanne Collins

Before writing The Hunger Games, Suzanne Collins wrote The Underland Chronicles, a kind of urban Alice in Wonderland in which the protagonist Gregor and his little sister fall through a vent and end up in a subterranean world under New York City populated by extremely pale humans and giant rodents and insects. Gregor is identified as the hero of an old prophesy and must defend the Underland from its enemies. Apparently this series deals with war and genocide among other things, so it's easy to see how Collins could go from this to The Hunger Games.

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Images: Patrick Tomasso/Unsplash