How Long Did The World’s Most Famous Books Take To Write?

Famous Books – Have you ever wondered how long it would take to write a novel? A year? Two? Maybe even 10 years? Many budding authors are put off at the thought that it could take years of uninterrupted dedication and commitment to produce a work of literally genius. However, many famous writers have proven otherwise, as this data visual from Printerinks shows.

Sometimes all it takes is a quiet weekend and a spark of inspiration to get the basis for an incredible work of fiction, as in the case of author John Boyne, who claims to have written his novel ‘The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas’, which is set during the Holocaust, in less than 3 days. This feat is even more impressive when you discover that this 2006 book is nearly 47,000 words in length – this means that John Boyne was writing an incredible average of 18,700 words a day! At the typical typing speed of 41 words-per-minute (WPM) this equates to 7 and a half solid hours of typing away each day.

In the case of Mr Martin, who has been working on ‘The Winds of Winter’ since 2011, his busy schedule writing for other projects, enjoying his fame, and the predicted length of the manuscript have all contributed to delays. 

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Of course at the other end of the scale are works of the literally greats, Victor Hugo and J. R. R. Tolkien, who took 12 and 16 years respectively to bring their masterpieces to life.

When inspiration does strike, some famous novelists have proven that a work of fictional brilliance can be produced in a matter of days. From ‘The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas’ which the author, John Boyne, claims to have written in 2 ½ days, to ‘The Lord of the Rings’ trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkien which took a staggering 16 years to complete, we have collated 30 of the world’s most famous books to divulge and compare how long they took to create.

As well as knowing simply how long these novels took to write, it is interesting to note the books word-count in comparison. At over 58,000 words in length, ‘The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde’ was written in only 6 days, meaning Robert Louis Stevenson wrote a remarkable average of 4482 words per day to finish his story within this time. Impressive when compared with JD Salinger’s average for ‘The Catcher in the Rye’ at a mere 20 words per day over 10 years.

So how long did it take for your favorite novel to be completed? Have a look at the infographic below to see where George Orwell, Mary Shelley, Harper Lee and numerous others fall on the timeline.

How Long Did The World’s Most Famous Books Take To Write?

How Long Did The World's Most Famous Books Take To Write Infographic

Infographic source: Printerinks