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South Africa's Kathleen Lindsay: the Ultimate Serial Novelist of Her Day

The Double Comfort Safari Club9th JudgementAlert! How many novels have you written lately? One, perhaps two? Even, maybe, four?

Slackers! Just look at Kathleen Lindsay over there, beavering away on her 905th book! Why can’t you be more like her?

UK-born, South Africa-settled Lindsay (d. 1973 in Somerset West) once held the Guinness-verified world record for most number of novels written, tallying them up at 904, which were spread out across a series of pseudonyms – the most popular of which seems to have been “Mary Faulkner”. Her genre of choice was romance, naturally. Boy, did she have the knack!

(But wait, was “Kathleen Lindsay” a pseudonym itself? Wikipedia says no, Fantastic Fiction says yes. Other known psueds: Margaret Cameron, Hugh Desmond, Mary Richmond, Molly Waring.)

Lindsay/Faulkner’s record has since apparently been smashed. Not that we know by whom – but whoever it is, she or he is doubtless afflicted with the same disease of “serial novelism”, about which the Sydney Morning Herald has written entertainingly:

Possibly the most devastating case of serial novelism was that of South African writer Mary Faulkner. According to David Wallechinsky and Irving Wallace’s The People’s Almanac, she wrote 904 romance novels under six pen names. That works out at roughly 20 books a year.

In the heyday of pulp fiction, writers churned their books out at a great rate, usually to earn enough money to live on. Prentiss Ingraham wrote more than 600 books, 200 of them on Buffalo Bill. Occasionally, he wrote a 35,000-word book overnight. This was before the days of laptops and I hate to think of his writer’s cramp.

Writers whose progress is slow usually grind their teeth on hearing these statistics, but comfort themselves with the thought that the more prolific the writers, the more likely they are to produce rubbish.

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Recent comments:

  • <a href="http://louisgreenberg.com" rel="nofollow">Louis Greenberg</a>
    Louis Greenberg
    May 10th, 2010 @08:54 #
     
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    Yowser! So she's basically responsible for the entire 'clogs-n-shawls' genre that booksellers stillhave to page through on publishers' lists. That's ... something.

    But, Ben - the picture on the link to this feature is your slush bookshelf, isn't it? What if you really want to get to that book you stowed in the back, botttom corner?

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  • Ben - Editor
    Ben - Editor
    May 10th, 2010 @09:52 #
     
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    Louis, I have a machine for that. A diesel-powered book excavator - problem is, once you get one, you spend all your time playing with it rather than reading books.

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  • <a href="http://helenmoffett.book.co.za" rel="nofollow">Helen</a>
    Helen
    May 10th, 2010 @14:00 #
     
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    Heh heh. Ben, we know you run this webbie as an excuse to play with machines all day... I also wondered about the source for that pic.

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