There are differences of opinion regarding who are the most prolific English writers—that is, who have written the most words. Some would argue that Charles Hamilton, the creator of Billy Bunter of Greyfriars School, tops the list. He is supposed to have produced around 100 million words in a writing life of over sixty years of contributing school and adventure stories for The Gem, The Magnet and many other magazines. Another contender—who is still very much alive—is the that extraordinary man from East Dereham, the Reverend Lionel Fanthorpe, who cut his teeth as a writer of pulp science fiction for’ Badger Books’ in his late ‘teens ( at one stage he was penning a book each fortnight ) and went on to write prolifically on the supernatural and paranormal—that is when he wasn’t presenting Fortean TV, gaining awards in swimming and judo , being a management consultant, and riding around the UK on his powerful motor bike with his wife. He certainly holds some sort of record for the number of titles he produced. I interviewed him twice—for Book and Magazine Collector and Mensa Magazine—and I can honestly say that of all the hundred or more people I have got on tape, he is by far the most unusual figure.
But then we have Clement Wood (1888 – 1950) who, according to his own publicity, may be the most prolific American wordsmith. This poet, erotic novelist, biographer, journalist, short-story and pulp-fiction writer, and compiler of multi-volume encyclopaedias, also gave talks on writing and it is in one of these talks– to the Writers Club of Gloversville, New York in June 1938– that he made the astonishing claim that he had written over 25 million words! Here is his claim. Continue reading